‘Amer­i­can Gods,’ head­ing for tele­vi­sion, gets rev­er­en­tial reis­sue

The Washington Post Sunday - - BOOK WORLD - BY RON CHARLES book­world@wash­post.com Ron Charles is the edi­tor of Book World.

Neil Gaiman’s “Norse Mythol­ogy” has been ris­ing high on the best­seller list since it was re­leased last month, but one of Gaiman’s older books is find­ing new life, too.

His clas­sic fan­tasy novel “Amer­i­can Gods,” first pub­lished in 2001, has just been reis­sued in a gor­geous spe­cial edi­tion by the Lon­don-based Fo­lio So­ci­ety. This strik­ing ver­sion of the Hugo- and Ne­bula Award-win­ning novel ar­rives in a slip­cover and con­tains a dozen sur­real il­lus­tra­tions by Dave McKean. Gaiman and McKean, both from Bri­tain, have worked to­gether on sev­eral pre­vi­ous books, in­clud­ing “Vi­o­lent Cases,” “Black Orchid” and “The Grave­yard Book.”

In his in­tro­duc­tion to the Fo­lio’s “Amer­i­can Gods,” McKean ex­plains that his “il­lus­tra­tions be­gin as acrylic paint­ings on a back­ground of cut pa­pers and pho­to­graphic tex­tures.” That tech­nique al­lows him to il­lus­trate this new edi­tion with what looks like a se­ries of gilded night­mares.

“The im­agery should cre­ate an at­mos­phere,” he writes, “an of­fk­il­ter, un­re­al­is­tic place, where per­spec­tive doesn’t work and el­e­ments and char­ac­ters be­come flat­tened-out tex­tures, shapes, con­cepts.”

Gaiman in­spires such de­vo­tion from his fans that many won’t blink at the $120 price for this hand­some book, which uses the au­thor’s “pre­ferred text” from 2003, a brief in­tro­duc­tion from 2005 and an af­ter­word from 2001 ti­tled “How Dare You?” (And frankly, $120 is a bar­gain com­pared to copies of the lim­ited edi­tion of “Amer­i­can Gods” pub­lished by Hill House in 2003. Those edi­tions, lim­ited to 750 signed copies, sell for hun­dreds, even thou­sands of dol­lars more.)

Mean­while, the Starz net­work plans to be­gin a tele­vi­sion adap­ta­tion of “Amer­i­can Gods” on April 30, which will only drive more read­ers back to this novel.

Big Brother is now huge

Next time you’re at Costco, you can pick up a jumbo bag of Chee­tos with a copy of “1984.” Dou­ble­plus good! The dis­count store is now stock­ing Or­well’s clas­sic novel along with its usual se­lec­tion of cur­rent best­sellers.

Much has been made of the soar­ing sales of “1984” since the in­au­gu­ra­tion. Last month, amid talk of “al­ter­na­tive facts” from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, Signet Clas­sics an­nounced that it had reprinted 500,000 copies, about twice the book’s to­tal sales in 2016.

Now, with Costco on board, Big Brother is guar­an­teed to get even big­ger. The re­tailer of­fers only a small se­lec­tion of books, but with tens of mil­lions of mem­bers (what we used to call “cus­tomers”), the store is a ma­jor force in pub­lish­ing. Ap­pro­pri­ately, Costco is of­fer­ing a re­print of the 2003 edi­tion of “1984” with a fore­word by Thomas Pyn­chon. That reclu­sive satirist must love the idea of hawk­ing Or­well’s dystopian novel along­side tow­ers of dis­counted toi­let pa­per and ra­dial tires. SHOP­PING IS SAV­ING.

DAVE MCKEAN FOR THE FO­LIO SO­CI­ETY EDI­TION OF NEIL GAIMAN’S “AMER­I­CAN GODS”

Neil Gaiman’s fan­tasy novel “Amer­i­can Gods” has been reis­sued by the Fo­lio So­ci­ety in a spe­cial edi­tion with il­lus­tra­tions by Dave McKean. Gaiman’s “Norse Mythol­ogy was re­leased last month.

By Neil Gaiman Il­lus­trated by Dave McKean Fo­lio So­ci­ety. 537 pp. $120

AMER­I­CAN GODS

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