Excerpt from American Gods by Neil Gaiman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

American Gods

By Neil Gaiman

American Gods
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2001,
    480 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2002,
    608 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Yes, sir."

"You look younger."

"Clean living."

"Says here you've been a model inmate."

I learned my lesson, sir."

"Did you really?" He looked at Shadow intently, the birthmark on his forehead lowering. Shadow thought about telling the man some of his theories about prison, but he said nothing. He nodded, instead, and concentrated on appearing properly remorseful.

"Says here you've got a wife, Shadow."

"Her name's Laura."

"How's everything there?"

"Pretty good. She's come down to see me as much as she could - it's a long way to travel. We write and I call her when I can."

"What does your wife do?"

"She's a travel agent. Sends people all over the world."

"How'd you meet her?"

Shadow could not decide why the man was asking. He considered telling him it was none of his business, then said, "She was my best buddy's wife's best friend. They set us up on a blind date. We hit it off."

"And you've got a job waiting for you?"

"Yessir. My buddy, Robbie, the one I just told you about, he owns the Muscle Farm, the place I used to train. He says my old job is waiting for me."

An eyebrow raised. "Really?"

"Says he figures I'll be a big draw. Bring back some old-timers, and pull in the tough crowd who want to be tougher."

The man seemed satisfied. He chewed the end of his ballpoint pen, then turned over the sheet of paper.

"How do you feel about your offense?"

Shadow shrugged. "I was stupid," he said, and meant it.

The man with the birthmark sighed. He ticked off a number of items on a checklist. Then he riffled through the papers in Shadow's file. "How're you getting home from here?" he asked. "Greyhound?"

"Flying home. It's good to have a wife who's a travel agent."

The man frowned, and the birthmark creased. "She sent you a ticket?"

"Didn't need to. Just sent me a confirmation number. Electronic ticket. All I have to do is turn up at the airport in a month and show 'em my ID, and I'm outta here."

The man nodded, scribbled one final note, then he closed the file and put down the ballpoint pen. Two pale hands rested on the gray desk like pink animals. He brought his hands close together, made a steeple of his forefingers, and stared at Shadow with watery hazel eyes.

"You're lucky," he said. "You have someone to go back to, you got a job waiting. You can put all this behind you. You got a second chance. Make the most of it."

The man did not offer to shake Shadow's hand as he rose to leave, nor did Shadow expect him to.

The last week was the worst. In some ways it was worse than the whole three years put together. Shadow wondered if it was the weather: oppressive, still, and cold. It felt as if a storm was on the way, but the storm never came. He had the Jitters and the heebie-leebies, a feeling deep in his stomach that something was entirely wrong. In the exercise yard the wind gusted. Shadow imagined that he could smell snow on the air.

He called his wife collect. Shadow knew that the phone companies whacked a three-dollar surcharge on every call made from a prison phone. That was why operators are always real polite to people calling from prisons, Shadow had decided: they knew that he paid their wages.

"Something feels weird," he told Laura. That wasn't the first thing he said to her. The first thing was "I love you," because it's a good thing to say if you can mean it, and Shadow did.

"Hello," said Laura. "I love you too. What feels weird?"

"I don't know," he said. "Maybe the weather. It feels like if we could only get a storm, everything would be okay."

"It's nice here," she said. "The last of the leaves haven't quite fallen. If we don't get a storm, you'll be able to see them when you get home."

From American Gods by Neil Gaiman. © 2001. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  171The City:
    Dean Koontz
  2.  43The Arsonist:
    Sue Miller

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.