To Read – Later

21 03 2011

A short trip to Greenbelt resulted to Gruber, Rice and Gaiman. I was supposed to get a pair of running shoes but got distracted. Stroud, Gruen, Pratchett and Follett are backlogs.

I’ve read American Gods last year – loaned by a friend – but I wanted my own copy and a reread. So when I saw a good edition, I made a decision to ignore the shoes.





American Gods

12 05 2010

It is the concept of gods living in present-day United States that tweaked my curiosity.

Although I’ve been meaning to buy American Gods during my handful of bookstore traipsing, I’ve shrugged it off to my “to buy list” in order to attend to my other new books. Until it caught on me via my co-worker — she dangled it in front of my face and I just had to borrow.

She gladly expected that to happen.

There is a definitive bleakness on how the character, setting  and story was presented in American Gods. People are careless, are distant and are over the top nonchalant over things that should’ve induced panic. Perhaps I found this peculiar given that war is coming, or more succinctly supposed by the characters, “A storm is coming.”

There’s never been a true war that wasn’t fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.

Shadow is a good man that made bad choices. Days leading to his release from prison, he learns that the one thing that can make things right – his wife – is dead. Out in the world and numbed to the core, a job offer arrives in the form of the enigmatic Wednesday. Shadow hesitates and tries to justify that after his long stint behind bars he can’t associate himself with dodgy people that schemes on things that may not be legal.

But accept he did. Soon he finds himself tangled in the unusual. He meets a giant of a leprechaun, his wife comes back to life, a succubus visits him, he goes to a fantastical place, meets a giant spider and more. By the time he realizes nothing has ever been normal after signing up for Wednesday, he’s already into deep turning his back seems impossible.

American Gods is a haunting tale of life, death, resurrection and death once more. It speaks of unwanted hellos, sorrowful goodbyes, inevitability of despair and the bitter truth that we get pain in return as a price for living. It is amusingly bleak and riveting that even the short stories that posed as an interlude  showed great capability. Any unsuspecting reader can feast on its visceral sadness but can also delight in its lesson.

Author Neil Gaiman have taken bits and pieces of several myths from all over the world and allowed it  into a balanced stew in order for his characters to move around. For people who might have forgotten their mythology, it allows you to revisit and familiarize it in this story. You may find yourself pacing for the narrative to sit but fear not since this is experienced by a lot of American Gods reader. The myriad of events and turns can be confounding at times but as long as you don’t rush in it, the pay off will be very fulfilling.

The novel is a fascinating fusion of several gods and the mild crash-course it offers is both delightful and refreshing. And yes, the story is lush without the unnecessary indulgence.

Notes:

Written by Coraline and The Graveyard Book British ex-patriot Neil Gaiman

Published by William Morrow

ISBN 0-380-97365-0

Winner of the Nebula, Hugo, Locus and Bram Stocker Award





M Is For Magic

9 06 2008

My penchant for fiction formed at a very early age. There would be lazy afternoons, long before I stepped into my formal education, wherein I would imagine of magicians, fairies, giants, witches, princes, and princesses. At a snail’s pace, I would read and be devoured by fantastical books transforming me to places impossible to reach. It must have started with the Grimm Brother’s classic Snow White or Little Red Riding Hood and reinforced by a graphic representation of author Michael Ende’s The Never Ending Story; from there it has been a happy march to the book/movie lover that I am now.

Neil Gaiman’s M Is For Magic lets you revisit the child that you once were. It provides resounding truth to how little divides us from our old self because it appeals just as it did when we were three (years old). The book is a compilation of short stories that conveniently takes us to another dimension and safely brings us back to our mundane world. It allows us to peek at the innocence we once had without obscuring us from the real world – which we’re sincerely stuck. The advantage of this book doesn’t only lie in the fact that if one story is not to your liking, you can always move to the next one and you are not bound to it very long. Like when we were kids, the books we receive for our birthday or Christmas was no responsibility and it doesn’t repress us from the world we live in – if any, it actually helps it to be tolerable.

Gaiman’s tales are rendered with haunting and poignant strokes (a black cat takes care of a family by stopping the devil getting into their house and in return slowly loses his life; an old lady finds the Holy Grail at a bargain shop and is painstakingly convinced by a gallant Knight to give it to him), some delivered with dark humour (Jack meets a troll under the bridge and bargains for his life; the months of the year comes together in front of a bonfire to share stories), and others seem curiously lost in translation (a man tries to sell the Ponti Bridge which becomes a huge feat comparable to selling the Eiffel Tower; a group of people who loves to eat finds themselves ablaze for a peculiar menu). The book is highly recommended specially for those living in a fast phased world of instant gratification in need of time out and somehow, M Is For Magic makes grown up escapes innocent and nostalgic.

Featured Short Stories

The Case Of The Four And Twenty Blackbirds
Troll Bridge
Don’t Ask Jack
How To Sell The Ponti Bridge
October In The Chair
Chivalry
The Price
How To Talk To Girls At Parties
Sunbird
The Witch’s Headstone
Instructions

 

Notes:

M Is For Magic

Written By English born author, Neil Gaiman (also known for writting the screeplay Beuwolf)

Published By Harper Collins