Shadow has been waiting for this moment for the last three years.
He is being released from prison in a few days. Little does he know that he will be released in a few hours following the deaths of his wife and his best friend, amid compromising circumstances.
As he is on his way home, he comes across a man who is named Mr. Wednesday. He is propositioning him a job, one that will require little, but in the end may require more than the average job entails. Shadow at first refuses, but, as the trip ensues, he accepts, which brings him into this fantastical world – hallucinations at first he thinks, but as Shadow goes deeper and deeper into the work, the people he meets it is more than he ever imagined that it would be.
The travelling across America and beyond, Shadow becomes aware of what his presence is really there for, what the meaning of life is for him, what it means to others.
“It’s just easier to just do the time.” He paused. Then, “You got to understand the god thing. It’s not magic. It’s about being you, but the you that people believe in. It’s about becoming the concentrated, magnified, essence of you. It’s about becoming the thunder, or the power of a running horse, or wisdom. You take all the belief and become bigger, cooler, more than human. You crystallize.” He Paused. “And then one day they forget about you, and they don’t believe in you, and they don’t sacrifice, and they don’t care, and the next thing you know you’re running a three-card monte game on the corner of Broadway and Forty-third.”
Futuristic, yet goes to the heart of a man’s sense of who he is, how he is changing, and what he will become.
Neil Gaiman is on twitter @neilhimself – he may even answer you back