Parts 3 & 4:
Hopefully I will be able to put together an actual review in the next few days. This is the 5th book by Neil Gaiman that I've read, the others being:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Graveyard Book
Of those, this one is the grittiest and the weirdest. An eldritch book. One of those books that requires rumination in order to process it.
It's easy, there's a trick to it, you do it or you die.
I finished Part 2 of 4 last night, and am at 70% - clearly Gaiman doesn't structure his parts with any sort of symmetry at all.
Lakeside is intriguing. There is definitely something going on there with all of the missing children, but as we've now left Lakeside, I'm not sure that I will ever find out what that might be.
I love Gaiman's description of Las Vegas:
"Las Vegas has become a child’s picture book dream of a city—here a storybook castle, there a sphinx-flanked black pyramid beaming white light into the darkness as a landing beam for UFOs, and everywhere neon oracles and twisting screens predict happiness and good fortune, announce singers and comedians and magicians in residence or on their way, and the lights always flash and beckon and call. Once every hour a volcano erupts in light and flame. Once every hour a pirate ship sinks a man o’ war."
I personally sort of hate Las Vegas, and this pretty much explains why. It is the fakest place that has ever been built, but not in an interesting way. In a vacuous, consumerist way. It figures that Vegas would come up in a book about American Gods.
What happened to Wednesday? Can he really be(show spoiler)
Well, I finished part one this afternoon. One of the things that always strikes me when I read a book by Neil Gaiman is how unique each book is. He doesn't repeat himself, or fall back on the same themes again and again.
Gaiman's vision of America is terrible and wondrous. He sees it from the outside, so he has really nailed some of the weirdest elements of our culture. I love the way that he talks about roadside attractions. I am an unrepentant fan of them myself, and am always up for a side trip to see Wall Drug, or whatever other shrine to the bizarre has popped up in the area of my path.
"No, in the USA, people still get the call, or some of them, and they feel themselves being called to from the transcendent void, and they respond to it by building a model out of beer bottles of somewhere they’ve never visited, or by erecting a gigantic bat-house in some part of the country that bats have traditionally declined to visit. Roadside attractions: people feel themselves being pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognize that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that.”
So far, the new gods haven't made much of an appearance, showing up from time to time on television screens. The old gods are careworn, but much more interesting than what I've seen of the new gods
“Now, as all of you will have had reason aplenty to discover for yourselves, there are new gods growing in America, clinging to growing knots of belief: gods of credit-card and freeway, of internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon. Proud gods, fat and foolish creatures, puffed up with their own newness and importance."
One question that has always intrigued me is what happens to demonic beings when immigrants move from their homelands. Irish-Americans remember the fairies, Norwegian-Americans the nisser, Greek-Americans the vrykólakas, but only in relation to events remembered in the Old Country. When I once asked why such demons are not seen in America, my informants giggled confusedly and said “They’re scared to pass the ocean, it’s too far,” pointing out that Christ and the apostles never came to America.
Richard Dorson, "A Theory for America Folklore."
All righty, then, the part with the man-eating vagina was certainly weird.