Favorite Lines from AMERICAN GODS

Well, friends, my plan had been to get this post ready in time for the start of the Starz version of Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods. But I failed hard at that. I also can’t tell dates or time. Ask my best friend about the time I showed up at her house a whole week earlier than she was expecting me for vacation. But maybe better late than never? Besides, the best way to make the gods laugh is to make a plan, and I’m sure Neil would agree, and then write a story about it.

Anyway. American Gods remains one of my favorite novels and I reread it every couple years. Each time, I get something new out of it, just like I do when I reread other beloved novels. Here are some of the lines that resonated in particular for me, in no particular order. I highlight and underline and doodle and mark up my books as I read. I just randomly flipped through my copy and grabbed a few. I hope you enjoy.

  • What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.
  • Every hour wounds. The last one kills.
  • People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe, and then they do not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjuration. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.
  • Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.
  • “Not only are there no happy endings,” she told him, “there aren’t even any endings.”
  • There was only one guy in the whole Bible Jesus ever personally promised a place with him in Paradise. Not Peter, not Paul, not any of those guys. He was a convicted thief, being executed. So don’t knock the guys on death row. Maybe they know something you don’t.
  • What should I believe? thought Shadow, and the voice came back to him from somewhere deep beneath the world, in a bass rumble: Believe everything.
  • He was alone in the darkness once more, but the darkness became brighter and brighter until it was burning like the sun.
  • Tell him that language is a virus and that religion is an operating system and that prayers are just so much fucking spam.
  • The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience.
  • All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want. But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them.
  • It’s all imaginary anyway. That’s why it’s important. People only fight over imaginary things.
  • “Say ‘Nevermore,'” said Shadow. “Fuck you,” said the raven.
  • Even nothing cannot last forever.
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