This week’s Flashback Friday: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
After the scariness of Super Tuesday, Neil was excited to share the news about Wonderful Wednesday–as in the character from American Gods, which is being made into a mini-series for Starz.
This book was the 2nd book I’d read by Neil Gaiman (the first being Neverwhere), and for a long time, it sat as my favorite book of all time. (It still pops back up to #1 when I reread it. Yeah, I’m fickle that way.) The idea that culture has shifted religious views isn’t a new idea, but Neil pulls it off with his typical aplomb.
Money is a God in our society, as are Greed and Poverty and many other ideas that drive us to keep up with the Jones’s. Or put others down. Even major religions like Christianity have become twisted and skewed in the sight of money. Churches are more concerned with filling their coffers than helping the homeless sleeping on their porches.
Even our politicians bow down to the mighty dollar. It’s depressing.
When I read this book, I knew what sort of writer I wanted to be. I didn’t want to write the same tired plots with the same clichéd characters. I wanted to write stories that made people think, made people question–stories that made people uncomfortable as they squirmed through the plot. I wanted to push boundaries and blur the lines between the good guys and the bad guys.
Let’s face it–as humans, we’re both.
That was one of the things that fascinated me about the Little Dozen Kingdoms and the Amaskans was that I was taking something normally seen as a villain (an assassin) and flipping it on its head. Members of the Order of Amaska live by a religious code. They are a mix of justice-seeking monks and assassins, and like any group, they feel they are doing the right thing. Killing people who commit acts against the 13 is their god’s wish.
It’s a dangerous idea–people acting on the idea that they are doing what’s best for others. Just look at American politics for the past century to see the pros and cons of that.
Discovering that you’re wrong…well, that’s what book II’s for.
American Gods taught me that bucking the rules and taking chances can pay off with a brilliant story. It also taught me that at the end of the day, it’s all about the characters.