Msnowe's Blog

Monday Postage for Friday

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on October 19, 2009

The fiction Lady-Rating returns (on a Monday).

Do you have what it takes, fictionally?

Do you have what it takes, fictionally?

First, apologies–m.snowe has been neglecting this Friday post  idea. But to remedy that on a Monday morning, here we go with a new book to analyze in terms of its female characters, or the presence/lack of any type of feminist ideas.

Today’s Lady-Rating, for American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

americangods_big

Do ladies ever strike twice?

Rating: 4 out of 10.

Reasoning: First let m.snowe say that she enjoyed this book immensely. It was an easy read, and presented ideas and creative vignettes that were extremely original and thought-provoking. There was an underlying message or preachyness to the book, but it really didn’t distract or take away from m.snowe’s enjoyment of the story. But here’s the problem–most of the lady bits are tangential. The protagonist, Shadow, is actually quite a redeeming character, and it’s clear that he respects and enjoys the company of women (yeah, in that way too). And women do play a crucial role in the movement of the story–Gaiman’s premise of broke-down gods living in America is not neglectful of lady gods–Easter, Mama Ji, the Zorya sisters, etc., and so on. And Shadow’s dead wife is also a key character. But honestly, sometimes m.snowe felt like the ladies were either there to add flourish or intrigue, or merely drive the story–which is fine, but the women don’t get the kind of character development that the men sometimes do. Despite the variety of names these lady-gods are given, it might not be completely unfair to say they are all really Muses. They guide and assist Shadow on his way, and the real players are men–Shadow, Wednesday, Mister World.

But let m.snowe make it clear–she loved this book, and found herself reading passages that were completely unique, and many times wished she could’ve come up with such strange and beautiful stories. The small stories that breakaway from the main action were just out-of-place enough to work, yet intrinsically tied to the plot, even if you couldn’t fully puzzle out why. A scene of a reverse birth was shocking (at least, it was to m.snowe!), and the frank suspension of reality somehow works. In fact, it was mildly disappointing to see that the end was connected to the solving of a “real life” murder mystery, because it hurled the story back into reality, taking the reader out of the world of strange possibilities that Gaiman navigates so fluidly. If only Shadow or Wednesday had a lady counterpart, this story would’ve tipped the lady-rating scales to a seven or eight. But m.snowe recommends you read it anyway.

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