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:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2001, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2002, 608 pages

  • 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!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hot Milk
    Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy
    When people reach their early 20s, they often choose to go abroad – they want to get away from...
  • Book Jacket: Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    by Joy Williams
    I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a fan of religious fiction - not even books ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.