American Gods - Neil Gaiman

“‘Tell him that we have fucking reprogrammed reality. Tell him that language is a virus and that religion is an operating system and that prayers are just so much fucking spam. Tell him that or I’ll fucking kill you,’ said the young man mildly, from the smoke.”

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, but it sure sounds intriguing.

One thing I have noticed so far is how easy it is to just sink into the book, despite the bizarre scenes and characters that crop up out of nowhere.

I’m reading The Axeman’s Jazz in parallel to this (this month’s library book group read), and one of the things that has struck me is how much effort Celestin has put into detailing the time, place and characters. You can literally feel the author’s effort when reading the book, which at times is also a little painful.

With Gaiman, it is different. There is a lot of atmosphere, but it is built by dialogue and plot elements, not detailed description.

The whole thing made me think about different ways that atmosphere is built and how those different approaches work for different readers.

For example, I don’t derive much of a sense of time and place from descriptions of social or historical background or references to locations (street names, cities etc.) as is the case with Celestin. However, give me dialogue and and references to smell or lighting and I am there.

Btw, I love the way that Shadow just accepts the weird goings on in his stride, without freaking out about them. It seems to make the characters and bizarre things they do appear really credible, as if the reader doesn’t need to question them because Shadow does not question them either.



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