I’ve loved Neil Gaiman’s work since first stumbling on him in partnership with Terry Pratchett in Good Omens – a novel that I like to call a Gateway Drug to both authors. Gaiman’s writing often made me feel like he had a window into my own mind.
It’s good to know you’re not the only one sometimes.
I have lost track of how many times I’ve read American Gods. This morning I was surprised to find that I had purchased the e-book at some point, despite already owning two paperback and two hardcover editions of it. (One was purchased just for Mr. Gaiman to autograph, because I didn’t want to show up with my old battered copy.) One of the paperback copies has been chewed on by my beloved cat, Pippin, who took the rainbow bridge only a little over a year ago. The other is coverless and in danger of losing pages. The only other book I own that’s been quite so reread, mistreated, and repeatedly reacquired? Good Omens.
I have been very excited for the American Gods miniseries. I grew even more excited as I followed the casting, which has been very well done and has followed the spirit of the book entirely. This is not a book that can be whitewashed. It’s an immigrant story, and a road story, and a fantasy novel, and so many other things that can’t, precisely, be put into words.
Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) is perfectly played, a grifter and a flim-flam man of epic proportions but seen immediately for what he is by Shadow (Ricky Whittle), who in his quiet, intelligent observation of impossible events is appropriately unflappable until such points as he needs to be otherwise. The fight with Mad Sweeney is exactly as I pictured it, with the leprechaun absolutely gleeful about any opportunity to fight, even when he’s getting his face bashed in. Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) is just as amazingly beautiful and terrifying as expected. (I am still amazed they got that scene past any network, cable or not, in an era where violence is OK but sex is not, and there’s rarely sexualized violence depicted where the woman has the power). You couldn’t ask for better casting if you tried.
I can’t wait for Mr. Nancy.
It doesn’t pull punches, and I was glad to see that the show doesn’t either, though it was initially quite surprising to my Premium-Cable-Virgin-Eyes. The opening sequence – that of viking warriors landing on the new world and bringing their god with them – had Tarantino-esque buckets of blood splattered gleefully and comically everywhere. Violence was certainly the theme of the first episode, but it seems that the producers are sticking fairly closely to the novel. Some scenes are moved around a bit, some put in different orders, some words in different mouths, but close enough to satisfy my Book-is-always-better self. I already want more, and that’s a good sign for a first episode of any show, even though I already know the story, even though I’ve read the book enough to destroy it twice.