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 by Neil Gaiman
  • 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


"Five days," said Shadow.

"A hundred and twenty hours, and then you come home," she said.

"Everything okay there? Nothing wrong?"

"Everything's fine. I'm seeing Robbie tonight. We're planning your surprise welcome-home party."

"Surprise party?"

"Of course. You don't know anything about it, do you?"

"Not a thing."

"That's my husband," she said. Shadow realized that he was smiling. He had been inside for three years, but she could still make him smile.

"Love you, babes," said Shadow.

"Love you, puppy," said Laura.

Shadow put down the phone.

When they got married Laura told Shadow that she wanted a puppy, but their landlord had pointed out they weren't allowed pets under the terms of their lease. "Hey," Shadow had said, "I'll be your puppy. What do you want me to do? Chew your slippers? Piss on the kitchen floor? Lick your nose? Sniff your crotch? I bet there's nothing a puppy can do I can't do!" And he picked her up as if she weighed nothing at all and began to lick her nose while she giggled and shrieked, and then he carried her to the bed.

In the food hall Sam Fetisher sidled over to Shadow and smiled, showing his old teeth. He sat down beside Shadow and began to eat his macaroni and cheese.

"We got to talk," said Sam Fetisher.

Sam Fetisher was one of the blackest men that Shadow had ever seen. He might have been sixty. He might have been eighty. Then again, Shadow had met thirty-year-old crackheads who looked older than Sam Fetisher.

"Mm?" said Shadow.

"Storm's on the way," said Sam.

"Feels like it," said Shadow. "Maybe it'll snow soon."

"Not that kind of storm. Bigger storm than that coming. I tell you, boy, you're better off in here than out on the street when the big storm comes.

"Done my time," said Shadow. "Friday, I'm gone."

Sam Fetisher stared at Shadow. "Where you from?" he asked.

"Eagle Point. Indiana."

"You're a lying fuck," said Sam Fetisher. "I mean originally. Where are your folks from?"

"Chicago," said Shadow. His mother had lived in Chicago as a girl, and she had died there, half a lifetime ago.

"Like I said. Big storm coming. Keep your head down, Shadow-boy. It's like ... what do they call those things continents ride around on? Some kind of plates?"

"Tectonic plates?" Shadow hazarded.

"That's it. Tectonic plates. It's like when they go riding, when North America goes skidding into South America, you don't want to be in the middle. You dig me?"

"Not even a little."

One brown eye closed in a slow wink. "Hell, don't say I didn't warn you," said Sam Fetisher, and he spooned a trembling lump of orange Jell-O into his mouth.

"I won't."

Shadow spent the night half-awake, drifting in and out of sleep, listening to his new cellmate grunt and snore in the bunk below him. Several cells away a man whined and howled and sobbed like an animal, and from time to time someone would scream at him to shut the fuck tip. Shadow tried not to hear. He let the empty minutes wash over him, lonely and slow.

Two days to go. Forty-eight hours, starting with oatmeal and prison coffee, and a guard named Wilson who tapped Shadow harder than he had to on the shoulder and said, "Shadow? This way."

Shadow checked his conscience. It was quiet, which did not, he had observed, in a prison, mean that he was not in deep shit. The two men walked more or less side by side, feet echoing on metal and concrete.

Shadow tasted fear in the back of his throat, bitter as old coffee. The bad thing was happening....

There was a voice in the back of his head whispering that they were going to slap another year onto his sentence, drop him into solitary, cut off his hands, cut off his head. He told himself he was being stupid, but his heart was pounding fit to burst out of his chest.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: New People
    New People
    by Danzy Senna
    Danzy Senna has spent virtually her entire writing career exploring the complicated intersections of...
  • Book Jacket: Hunger
    Hunger
    by Roxane Gay
    In this penetrating and fearless memoir, author Roxane Gay discusses her battle with body acceptance...
  • Book Jacket: The Black Witch
    The Black Witch
    by Laurie Forest
    In The Black Witch, Laurie Forest introduces her readers to an immersive fantasy world where ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Young Jane Young
    by Gabrielle Zevin

    From the author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry comes a novel that will have everyone talking.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Hame

Hame by Annalena McAfee

A rich, sultry novel about a young American fleeing a crumbling marriage for a remote Scottish island.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A F Out O W

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.