Welcome to Artsweek’s literature crossing! This week, Natalie Noblett takes on Alida Nugent’s in-your-face but wildly fun Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse while Allie Graydon reflects on Neil Gaiman’s modern rendering of ancient myths in American Gods.
Allie Graydon on American Gods by Neil Gaiman
American Gods by Neil Gaiman thrills with the clashing of the modern world and the mysterious realm of myth. The novel follows Shadow, a recently released convict who finds his wife has suddenly died. Without a place to go, he agrees to work for a shady man named Wednesday who shows him that gods and mythical creatures live among humans and are weakened by disbelief. The novel depicts an America that worships technology and corporate growth in place of ancient gods, creating a new form of worship that overpowers tradition. As Wednesday leads Shadow across America, Shadow prepares for a conflict of epic proportions that could change the world forever. Gaiman skillfully transforms ancient myths into fresh, modern characters while still maintaining their instantly recognizable characteristics.
The novel is a bounty of personality and detail with vivid descriptions of clothes, accents and smells that give the characters intricately defined images. In this blending of two worlds, Gaiman’s matter-of-fact tone and third-person narration brings the incomprehensible talk of gods down to earth. He describes impossible concepts in simple terms and he chillingly presents horrific moments with blunt detail. In this way, narrative takes a backseat to the tone and mood of each scene and the colorful personalities met along the way.
Like the drama of Greek figures in mythology or even the bickering when Superman meets Batman, each interaction between gods is an intricate character study and clashing of ideals. The novel fully pulls the reader in, however, by masterfully raising more questions than answers with every page, spreading a breadcrumb trail of plot twists that make characters unsure about their next move. With its new take on myth and exploration of what it means to be a god, American Gods provides a new perspective on the things America believes in.
Natalie Noblett on Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent
Are you equal parts terrified and excited for the future? Do you check your bank account multiple times a day and shudder at the remaining balance? Do you consider Netflix and Kirkland wine better friends than living, breathing humans? These are the types of questions Alida Nugent uses to determine if this novel is right for your life. Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse accurately conveys the unfortunate truth of adulthood. It is an awkward, moneyless period of time. In a personal re-telling of her post-college years and her mastery of uncomfortable situations, Nugent is honest and candid with readers by neglecting to sugarcoat any event in her life. Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse, however, is not a depressing book about how life beyond college leaves you terrifyingly broke and drunk by 10 a.m. But, it is a comedy about how life beyond college leaves you terrifyingly broke and drunk by 10 a.m.! Nugent sympathizes with fellow victims of college debt and uncertainty of the future, struggling to make the petrifying leap into adulthood. What’s fresh about this novel is that there is not a satisfying, finite resolution. Like the rest of us, Nugent emphasizes that she still doesn’t have all of her shit together, and that’s okay (I mean, really, who does?). Recovering from the hopelessness of the country’s economic status after graduating, Nugent manages to make the best out of an ultimately unfortunate situation. Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse is like a drunken conversation with your roommate at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday night: refreshing, blunt and uproarious.