A few years ago, Bridget McGovern at the TOR Books blog put together an exhaustive soundtrack to go along Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods: “The Complete American Gods Mix Tape”. I added all the tunes I could find, which is the vast majority, to a Spotify playlist. I was thinking of this playlist because Christmas features at the centre portion of the book, so it’s seasonal. Unfortunately, Spotify does not allow custom images for playlists (it’s only been a top user request for 3.5 years!) but I’m nothing if not stubborn. Hence, sharing through my own blog so I could have a representative image when I post the link! Enjoy.
Time for the essay on the monthly book club reading, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. (Spoilers, of course!)
I spent a lot of time following connections between symbols, mythological figures, and themes; I was struck by the deliberate choices in which gods were represented and which were not. When you think about different pantheons, you can come up with all kinds of symbols being represented, and not all symbols appear in every pantheon. Gaiman made the choice of using very specific types of gods connecting thanks to very specific symbols; here is my essay on the topic.
This is only my second book essay where visual support is actually part of the critical argument; the previous one was on Alice in Wonderland.
Three groups of traditional deities or complexes prominently feature in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: gods of light and (re)birth, cthonian gods of death and destruction, and gods of knowledge and trickery. These are not factions, all the gods from one complex are not working together; but they represent the domains, the groups of symbols, that form the core of the novel — the solar myth. A mind map below shows some of the associations we can make. Continue reading “Essay: The “American Gods” Trinity”→
Here are additional casting suggestions for supporting characters in a televised version of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. The first post is here. Naturally, this contains minor spoilers, but I tried to stay away from the big stuff.
These are all tough ones to cast because they are older women and let’s face it, showbusiness is not kind to older women. As a result, I end up with superstar picks that would likely be too expensive to cast for real, but hey, it’s my dream casting, right? So I spared no expense.
Zorya Vechernyaya: Vanessa Redgrave (Camelot, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Mary Queen of Scots). Strong, savvy, capable both of soothing white lies and bitter truths.
Zorya Utrennyaya: Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist, The Ellen Burstyn Show, The Spitfire Grill). She’s known mostly for her own television show and a plethora of supporting parts. I could really see her early to rise and early to bed, with a sunny disposition and devastating honesty.
Zorya Polunochnaya: Julie Christie (Doctor Zhivago, Fahrenheit 451). Al Pacino called her “the most poetic of all actresses.” She recently played Grandmother in the movie Red Riding Hood.
Mama-ji: Rekha (Bhaburekha Ganesan). She would need ageing make-up for the early parts of the role, but she can do dark and strong and independent — and terrifyingly beautiful.
Playtone, Tom Hanks’ production company, is currently working on a television series based on Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods, which is expected to show on HBO in late 2013 or early 2014.
Playtone has several successful series to its credit, including Band of Brothers, The Pacific, John Adams, and Electric City. The series is to be directed by Robert Richardson (cinematographer for The Aviator, Hugo and Django Unchained) and the script written by Richardson and Gaiman.
No word yet has been released on the casting, so I thought I’d play the fore-casting game (haha) and propose my pick of actors. I want to emphasize that this is a wish list, not news I read anywhere.
Shadow Moon: Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo in A Game of Thrones, Ronon Dex in Stargate: Atlantis). He’s got the physique and the mixed heritage.
I started the July book for my reading group, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, a week early and I took advantage of yesterday’s holiday to finish it. I wrapped up my reading notes this afternoon; I have eight pages typed in 11-pt font…I had to plow through it quickly and without pause because otherwise I would have forgotten all the little details between reading sessions.
I liked it, largely because I paid a lot of attention to the aforementioned details and played connect-the-dots. In terms of superficial story or characters, it was enjoyable but not sweeping; it’s the tapestry of references and allusions that were the meat of the book.
I will be curious to see if the same will come across in the HBO television series that is planned to air in late 2013 or early 2014. It is certainly doable; the excellent Carnivàle, for example, and to an extent Kings, gave just that kind of impression. Unfortunately, both of those were cancelled early, so I’m not sure how much mass-market appeal the style would have.
The book club reading for July is Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (2001), so as usual, here are some pop culture links.
First, those who only know him from his novels may not realize this, but Neil Gaiman got his fame with this essentially pop culture medium, writing comic books, most notably The Sandman and the initial story arc of The Books of Magic. There are several cross-references between American Gods and, in particular, The Sandman and its spin-offs, all pulished under DC’s Vertigo imprint.
The Sandman is excellent and remains strong for a long time. If you ever want to sample it but don’t want to get tangled in a long story line, I recommend trying issue #50 (June 1993), which has a lovely standalone story. If you like it, try buying the collected books from the start; if you don’t like it, this comic is probably not for you.