I first discovered American Gods in the summer after my Senior year of high school. I was taking my baby steps into the world of comics, reading some of the newest staples, the Ultimate Universe, DC New Frontier, Earth X, and one story titled Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman (at the time I thought it was pronounced G-eye-man at the time). The writing was sharp, the story fresh, and the art was eye catching. So naturally I returned to the catalog to find what more I could by this author, and it was then that I stumbled upon this little (har har) book called American Gods.
I don't usually do audio books. I'm very picky about my readers, and there is something about having someone else's imaginings of characters swirling in my head. Reading is a very personal thing for me. I get emotionally involved in the characters and their stories. Audiobooks sort of shatter that illusion. But on some unexplainable whim I got my hands on the behemoth 19 disk audio recording of American Gods read by George Guidall.
It was a chance worth taking. George Guidall breathed a life into the book and characters in a way I've yet to experience since. His gravelly, almost world-weary drawl fit Gaiman's wandering organic pace perfectly. Since finding the book I've added a copy to my iPod and have listened to the story on an almost constant repeat, and can now quote extended passages verbatim with Guidall. But I do have one nasty secret to admit... I've never actually read the book on paper. Every time I try, I end up starting it once more on my iPod, not wanting to lose the essence that Guidall brings to the story.
Almost as long as I'd been listening to the book, I've been dreaming of doing a road trip that explores most of the major areas in the story. It is a road trip book. A long, picaresque, wandering story that stretches up and down the midwest with stop overs all across the US. It sees many locales that are off the beaten path, and really gets at the heart of America.
So with that preamble I propose a modified version of the American Gods road trip. In a nutshell this trip would follow a more linear route, north to south, of the path that Shadow and occasionally his companions followed.
As an initial reference I am using a site that I stumbled to through the Wikipedia article. Only the Gods are Real has an interesting, but incomplete geography page (the above picture comes from that page). It breaks Shadow's journey into three major legs. Examining these maps reveals a central area down the midwest around the Mississippi River where the bulk of the journey takes place.
The trip I am envisioning starts at the fictional town of Lakeside (Through examining geographical references in the text I've found a town that seems to match the location (This will be discussed in latter entries) and make my way all the way south, ending at Lookout Mountain in Georgia
Along the way we will hit major stops from the book. These include (in a rough order)
- The House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Chicago, Illinois
- The Center of the US in Lebanon, Kansas
- El Paso, Illinois where Shadow picks up Sam Blackcrow
- Red Bull, Illinois where they stop for lunch
- Cairo, Illinois
The trip as envisioned would last roughly a week (hopefully less if I can swing it). For cost saving most nights would be spent camping, or if cost is really an issue (and time) shifts could be taken for driving duties.
In upcoming entries I'll start to take on the nuts and bolts of the journey. Route plans, locations, and more. I'll do entries about major stops covering history and how it relates to the book. For the next entry I'm going to discuss the search I've been doing for "Lakeside" Wisconsin, and what real towns have turned up to be the most likely.
Until Next Time!