American Pie with Gods

American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: Full Cast Production (Audio) - Neil Gaiman, Daniel Oreskes, Dennis Boutsikaris, Ron McLarty

The church I grew up in has this thing they do, where they claim to be the only ones who worship God the Right Way, and all other ways are bogus. Which never made any sense to me, not when I was an impressionable youth and not now. Why couldn't those who worship Allah be just as right? Or maybe the ancient Egyptians had the right of it, and everyone ever since has been wrong. Or maybe everyone was right, and all these gods exist, but they're fighting for dominance through their human subjects.


Reading - or in this case listening to - this book was like Neil Gaiman reached in my head and plucked out those ideas and gave them life - while on a road trip through America. You've got the greasy food, the kitschy dive bars, the Largest (fill in the blank) in the World tourist traps, the small towns and the big cities and the wide open roads in one beat-up P.O.S. car after another. Including a Winnebago! It's illegal to take extended road trips in America unless you're in a Winnebago. This is the truth. I promise. (It's the oil companies' fault. They lobbied Congress into passing this law after fuel economy cars became so popular. ... Okay, maybe not, but I'm sure Sam Black Crow believes this.) 


This book starts out slow, and for the first 75% of it I had no fracking clue what was going on - and my computer just decided to autocorrect "fricking" to "fracking" and I just learned that "frack" is a real word and not just something made up for BSG, which is incidentally the only thing I know about that show. And cylons? But anyway, I had no clue what was going on for the first 3/4s of this book but that hardly mattered. This is about the journey, about discovery, and eventually you arrive at the plot and it all blows your mind and everything makes sense. That's good story-telling. This is also very much a character-driven story as we slowly get to see what makes Shadow tick, and meet all these strange and wonderful side characters along the way. One of my favorite things are the "coming to America" vignettes, as we see how various different people have come here over the years, for various reasons and in various methods. 


This is the full-cast production of the tenth anniversary, and it's brilliant. All the voice actors do amazing jobs, especially the sole woman who has to do all the female voices and ends up doing more voices than anyone else because of it. This was engaging and memorizing and all the characters came to life while I was listening, and Gaiman's darkly poetic prose is done justice by the main narrator as well. Gaiman even narrates a couple of the vignettes early on, which is always a treat to hear his voice.