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New Meetup: Hip and Well Read: American Gods part 2

From: Michelle
Sent on: Friday, July 3, 2009 11:44 AM
Announcing a new Meetup for Hip & Well Read!

What: Hip and Well Read: American Gods part 2

When: August 5,[masked]:30 PM

Price: $2.00 per person

4th and South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Hey Hipsters and Bibliophiles,

Due to popular demand... we are having a secondary meetup for July's book on Wednesday 8/5 at 7:30pm at Starbucks (upstairs) on 4th and South:

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A hard-boiled fantasia by the author of "The Sandman" sends a cast of burned-out mythological deities on a cross-country attempt at a comeback tour.

( As with most noir heroes, we meet Shadow, the protagonist of Neil Gaiman's hard-boiled fantasia, "American Gods," after he's lost everything. Fresh from doing three years in prison for a stupid crime, he learns that his beloved wife, Laura, is dead, killed in a car accident with his best friend, the guy who'd promised him a job when he got out. To make matters worse, he has a series of unsettling encounters with a persistent older gentleman in a pale suit. Each meeting seems to be the result of extravagantly improbable chance, and the gentleman, who offers Shadow a job as his bodyguard, just won't take no for an answer.

If you have a basic knowledge of mythology (or, for that matter, etymology, or, really, if you just have a good dictionary) and a vague idea of what "American Gods" is about, you can figure out this fellow's real identity pretty easily. Shadow, however, hasn't yet realized that he's stumbled into a kind of underground, a loosely connected network of burned-out, down-on-their-luck deities, the remnants of every god, godling or other supernatural being that any person who ever set foot in America has ever believed in. Shadow goes through some of the requisite hard-boiled experiences -- getting kidnapped and beat up by the bad guys, discovering that his employer hasn't been exactly honest with him and so on -- along with a few others that never crop up in Chandler and Hammett. A magical coin, given to him by a drunk claiming to be a leprechaun, a token that Shadow tosses into his wife's grave, has the unnerving result of reanimating her, and while she's unquestionably dead, she helps him out of a few scrapes. The characters in TV sitcoms drop their shtick and look out of the screen to address him directly, trying to talk him into joining the new gods. And then there are the weird dreams Shadow keeps having about a buffalo-headed figure who issues a series of cryptic pronouncements. But none of this is quite as creepy as Lakeside, the small Michigan town where he holes up for a while, a place that's just a little bit too good to be true.

With its mythological echoes, puns, in jokes and other decodable references, "American Gods" will delight the sort of reader who likes to hunt for such things. The novel also has a big theme about the nature of America, which, most of the characters insist, is "a bad land for gods," supposedly because we get tired of them and they dwindle from insufficient worship. This, it must be said, doesn't jibe with reality, and perhaps that's because Gaiman (who wrote the seminal graphic novel "The Sandman" and has authored several traditional novels, including the delightful "Neverwhere," which sets uncanny doings in the London Underground) is British. When Mr. Jacquel observes that "Jesus does pretty good over here," well, that's an understatement. Whatever its loftier intentions, "American Gods" is a juicily original melding of archaic myth with the slangy, gritty, melancholy voice of one of America's great cultural inventions -- the hard-boiled detective; call it Wagnerian noir. The melting pot has produced stranger cocktails, but few that are as tasty.

American Gods is available on, however, I encourage you all to support your local independent book store or library:
City Paper's List of Independent Bookstores
Google Map/Listing of Independent Bookstores in Philly

You will notice that that if you RSVP "Yes," you'll be charged to attend. This is to help me cover my costs as Organizer and reduce the number of no-shows we have at meetings. Please keep in mind I'm only giving refunds if the meeting is canceled or rescheduled, not if you change your mind about attending.

Thinking about coming when the Meetup is FULL? Read/click here.

Happy Reading!


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