Wednesday, September 17, 2008

American Gods

We're here in the hurricane aftermath...how did a hurricane (Ike) make it all the way to central Ohio on Sept. 14? We still have no power and American Electric Power is still telling us that it could take until Sept. 21 or even longer. Most of the trees have been cleared off the roads, and we've been hopelessly searching for ice and D batteries since Monday. There's a bad smell coming from the refrigerator, so it's too late for ice. (Yes, we have considered just replacing the refrigerator without opening it, like Dirk Gently in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.)

I'd never been in a hurricane before, and it was really impressive, as is all the damage. The radio kept saying "straight line winds" but there are some big trees that were obviously stirred around in a corkscrew and torn apart three or four different directions at once. Yesterday the road crews got most of the trees off of the major roads. We have four small trees (redbuds and ornamental pear) lying in our front and back yard, one with the cable line wrapped around it where Ron pulled the line off the street. There are a number of big trees down up in our woods. In the next yard the enormous tree trunk that fell on the power line is still lying on the line.

On Sunday it was kind of an adventure. We played cards by candlelight. On Monday it was less of an adventure. Even businesses were closed. McDonald's was closed, which gave Eleanor the unpleasant sensation that we were in one of the post-apocalyptic novels she'd just read. There was no school and the local colleges had to cancel classes.

Today most businesses and schools have power, but many of the residential areas, like mine, are dark and quiet. The motels and restaurants are full. The libraries are full. Most of the schools are open. I'm at the college library, because the public library is so full that it's hard to find a free outlet. And when I find a good book (I found two yesterday), it's hard to find any time to read, because most of my reading time comes in the evening, and I find it hard to concentrate when my book light keeps dimming.

I did finish a book right before the hurricane hit. It was American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. I picked it up because we'd listened to the audiobook of Anansi Boys this summer and found it compelling enough to keep us going through miles and miles of the midwest. American Gods was written before Anansi Boys, though, and I found it more loosely plotted. One character is martyred and then resurrected by a god named "Easter," and another comes back to life by means of unintential necromancy by leprechaun gold. It turns out that (naturally) necromancy doesn't pay:

"'Did you ever figure out how to bring me back from the dead?" she asked.
"I guess," he said. "I know one way, anyway."
"That's good," she said. She squeezed his hand with her cold hand. And then she said, "And the opposite? What about that?"
"The opposite?"
"Yes," she whispered. "I think I must have earned it."
"I don't want to do that."
She said nothing. She simply waited.
Shadow said, "Okay." Then he took his hand from hers and put it to her neck....
He closed his hand around the golden coin that hung around her neck. He tugged, hard, at the chain, which snapped easily. Then he took the gold coin between his finger and thumb, and blew on it, and opened his hand wide.
The coin was gone.
Her eyes were still open, but they did not move."

There are some good parts, but I'm thinking that Gaiman is a writer who got better as he went along. If you're a fan, you'll probably like this book. If you're not, don't start with this one. Start with Anansi Boys, and then read Douglas Adams' The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul before you read American Gods.

10 comments:

bookchronicle said...

As a fellow central Ohioan, I concur! Sunday night was kind of fun when all the lights went out, but it's now Thursday and I have two papers due for classes next week. It's definitely moving into the not fun zone.

Alison said...

Sorry to hear you are still without juice. If you think there is anything in the fridge that might be salvageable, you are welcome to stash it at our place.

Michele said...

My sister lives in Westerville (and we are moving either there or Pickerington in a few months) and is also still without power. I feel for you guys!

J. Kaye Oldner said...

Sorry to hear this...Gustav left us w/out for a week. For some, it was way longer. My heart breaks for you, because I do feel your pain.

lemming said...

The longest I've ever gone without power is three and a half days - I cannot imagine having to wait until the 21st for power to be restored.

I have been digging through the recesses of my memory for the name of a short story - I think it might be by Robertson Davies, but I have been wrong before. In it a professor is stranded in his office, and a ghost drops by. The ghost never graduated from college, but has spent the last century writing up graduation level essays in every single subject. After all, muses the prof, what else has the ghost had to do with its time?

Joe said...

Hurricane winds are, what, 25 MPH higher than anything we got? And feature torrential rain and flooding?

Just sayin'. Hope you're back up and running soon.

The Gaiman must-reads, IMO, are Neverwhere and Stardust. Stardust will eventually be the book which I read to a sick child while doing a bad Peter Falk impersonation.

As he wishes.

gotu said...

We got a tiny bit of Ike here, but nothing much to speak of. One of colleagues from further west had his county declared a disaster area, and he was without power, too. Having no electricity does lost its charm after awhile.

Jeanne said...

Yes, we're luckier than people without gas hot water heaters or--worse--people who aren't on city water systems and have an electric pump. And yes, we're luckier than people who lost their houses.

We have, however, lost our standard reply when a person from Florida asks how we can stand the Ohio weather, which used to be "well, at least we don't have hurricanes."

Joe, you can quibble. But you didn't lose power. (Also you didn't invite us over for dinner and let us bring our laundry, as another local friend did last night! But then, she doesn't have such a labor-intensive-age child...)

Jeanne said...

Lemming, the only Robertson Davies writing I know of with a ghost is High Spirits. I may not have read the story you're thinking of.

I'm at the public library, so maybe when the laptop and phone are recharged I'll go peruse the catalog.

Joe, we also liked the movie of Stardust.

Jeanne said...

Michele, I commute to Westerville, and they got power fairly quickly. Pickerington, on the other hand, is probably like us in being on "rural power," always the last to be restored.