This is a primarily a music blog but….. I have always kept my options open to to post about other interesting topics. Today I am exercising that option.
I just finished reading American Gods, a 2001 novel by British author Neil Gaiman. The book is incredibly creative and thought provoking. Here is how Wikipedia’s summarizes of the premise of the book. ( Don’t worry, this summary gives you insight into the major themes of the book without giving away any key plot points. )
The central premise of the novel is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them. Immigrants to the United States brought with them dwarves, elves, leprechauns, and other spirits and gods. However, the power of these mythological beings has diminished as people’s beliefs wane. New gods have arisen, reflecting America’s obsessions with media, celebrity, technology, and drugs, among others.
I am not religious so you might be surprised that I liked this novel. Here are the two main reasons I loved it.
First, even though American Gods is a work of fiction, there is a lot in the book has the ring of truth. Most of the gods in the book are spiteful and petty. They only care that the people to the extent that they worship, and offer up sacrifices to, them. This sounds very similar to a supposedly loving god that promises to cast all people that don’t believe in them into the pits of hell.
Second, and most importantly, there are portions of the book that reflect how a real loving god would behave. Here is one of those sections…… (note: I have used ###### to replace a name so as to not spoil the plot)
“So I’m dead,” said ######. He was getting used to the idea. “Or I’m going to be dead.”
“We are on our way to the Hall of the Dead. I requested that I be the one to come for you.”
“You were a hard worker. Why not?”
“Because…” ###### marshaled his thoughts. “Because I never believed in you. Because I don’t know that much about Egyptian mythology. Because I didn’t expect this. What happened to Saint Peter and the Pearly Gates?”
The long beaked white head shook from side to side, gravely. “It doesn’t matter that you didn’t believe in us,” said Mr. Ibis. “We believed in you.”
What a great line….”It doesn’t matter that you didn’t believe in us, we believed in you.” That strikes me as something that a real loving god might say.
Bottom line – American Gods has everything that makes a novel great. It has a great story line, it’s amazingly original, and it’s guaranteed to make you think. I highly recommend it.
If you read it, or have read it in the past, let me know what you think.
Postscript….late in American Gods, there was a reference to a Charles Dickens novel that I had not read, Bleak House. I liked the American Gods so much that I decided I would also read Bleak House. I will let you know what I think about it once I have finished reading it.