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Saturday, March 17, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 22

So, I was just starting to get up to speed on the DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING script when this morning brought with it from Harper Collins the US Galleys. So I rolled up my sleeves, took out my pen (the instructions they send say pencil, but I don't have a pencil here) and started in on them. Now it's just little things, and occasionally, fixing things I was too tired to fix the last time they went through (Harper Collins hyphenates or doesn't hyphenate on a system all of their own... why, I wonder, would face up become one word faceup?) and sometimes fixing things I'm pretty sure I did fix last time around but that weren't acted upon (dammit, I like blond for boys and blonde for girls). The scary point in proofreading is that odd moment when suddenly, the marks on the paper become nothing more than marks on the paper. This is my cue to go and make a cup of tea. Normally they've fixed themselves and become marks that mean something when I get back. In this case, I decided that doing a journal entry (while the tea brews) might encourage them to head back into wordhood.

Not sure if I mentioned this before, but the Amazon.com entry for American Gods has the first draft of the jacket copy up. (It's at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0380973650) The one on the book jacket is, I think, a little more oblique.

Changing the subject, I keep thinking about the Coen brothers who proudly announced when they released the directors cut of Blood Simple that far from adding any new material, they had managed to cut several minutes from it. I keep thinking about this in context of the book, this blogger journal, and the American Gods website. There is stuff I'm very happy to have cut from the manuscript. One story stands alone (I sent it out as a Christmas card this year) but there are some oddments that I cut out because they interrupted the flow of the story, and it was just a little leaner and worked a little better without them. I can imagine in ten years' time rereading American Gods and proudly cutting out several paragraphs.

So I think I may post a few here and there. There's one lecture from a character who never really even made it into the first draft, I keep meaning to transcribe from my notes and put up. The rest of them are full scenes or bits...

Here's a little one.

“I suppose I need a library card,” he said. “And I want to know all about thunderbirds.”

The woman had him fill out a form, then she told him it would take a week until he could be issued with his card. Shadow wondered if they spent the week sending out despatches to ensure that he was not wanted in any other libraries across America for failure to return library books.

He had known a man in prison who had been imprisoned for stealing library books.

“Sounds kind of rough,” said Shadow, when the man told him why he was inside.

“Half a million dollars worth of books,” said the man, proudly. His name was Gary McGuire. “Mostly rare and antique books from libraries and universities. They found a whole storage locker filled with books from floor to ceiling. Open and shut case.”

“Why did you take them?” asked Shadow.

“I wanted them,” said Gary.

“Jesus. Half a million dollars worth of books.”

Gary flashed him a grin, lowered his voice and said, “That was just in the storage locker they found. They never found the garage in San Clemente with the really good stuff in it.”

Gary had died in prison, when what the infirmary had told him was just a malingering, feeling-lousy kind of day turned out to be a ruptured appendix. Now, here in the Lakeside library, Shadow found himself thinking about a garage in San Clemente with box after box of rare, strange and beautiful books in it rotting away, all of them browning and wilting and being eaten by mold and insects in the darkness, waiting for someone who would never come to set them free.

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