Book Review: “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman

The more I read them, the more I love old myths and legends. They’re more than stories, more than magic and gods and the fantastic, they’re part of the history of a people group. They give insight into what mattered to a culture, what a people believed about themselves and life.

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My husband is half Norwegian. His father’s parents emigrated to the United States after their first child was born. They are all very proud of their heritage, which shows itself in recipes, jokes, and heirlooms and even a regularly repeated rumor of lineage to Odin. *wrinkles nose dubiously* So when one of my favorite authors announced that he was releasing a book of Norse Myths, I was extra excited to read it.

I often describe Neil Gaiman’s writing voice as beautiful to the point of dangerous. His tone is fluid, poetic, and enchanting. Once he begins to tell a story, I don’t want to stop listening, and if my 9 month old baby wasn’t trying to nibble the book every time it appeared, I would easily have finished this book in two days. In the end, it took me two weeks and the dust jacket, which frequently sacrificed itself as bate to her grabby, curious hands, barely escaped with its life.

The myths inside are not written as a bare timeline of incidents the way I remember Hamilton’s Mythology, (which, while informative, I will always refer to as “the cure for insomnia”). Norse Mythology read like a novel, each episode one step closer to the inevitable doomsday of the gods, Ragnarök. The cast of characters includes fiendish dwarves, clever giants, and many flawed, yet powerful gods. Gaiman tells each tale with his usual flourish and touch of humor. It was perfectly executed.

Basically this book is beautiful and everyone should read it.

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Home Again, Home Again

They wheeled me down to pre-op around 4pm on Thursday. I was so nervous that my pulse jumped from 97 to 123 while they were taking my vitals. I cried quite a bit, and hated myself for it, especially since the tears were visible on my cheeks during transport. I was also trembling, because I tend to shiver after a panic attacks.

As soon as I was prepped, my surgeon came out to see me.

“What kind of music do you like?” he asked.

“Classical.”

“Like, classic rock?”

“No, orchestral. Though if I’m going to be asleep you should probably pick your poison.”

He squeezed my foot. “Oh don’t worry. As soon as you’re out we’re going to turn it to gangster rap.”

At 5:40 pm, I handed off my glasses, got a nice deep kiss from Tim, and they wheeled me away.

They’d already given me an IV push of what the anesthesiologist called “happy juice,” so my lights were dimming as they positioned me beneath the operating room floodlights.I could hear Brahms. Someone asked me about my baby.

I woke to chatter and intense pain in my upper right quadrant. I remember whining about my pain and asking for Tim. The nurse gave me a push of something, but the pain was still so bad I warned her I might vomit. She gave me a push of something for that, then sent for Tim.

I was in and out for a while. At some point, I became aware that I was babbling. I heard myself say…

“…then Fenris wolf is going to eat the sun and the moon. The sky will tear with children’s screams.” A message to “shut up” began to slog its way from my brain to my mouth. “The wolf eats Odin.”

“Yeah,” said Tim.

“They were so mean to him. And Thor kills the snake but the snake kills him too.”

“Is this a movie?” The nurse asked my husband.

“Ragnarök,” I mumbled.

“It’s a book she just read,” Tim said.

I blinked fast and sat up a little. “I’m awake.”

The nurse asked me my name, where I was, and what had just happened to me. I answered her, then felt myself falling back into Norse Mythology.

I rolled in and out for a bit until they transferred me back to my room. A few naps and embarrassingly long burps later, I was discharged. We pulled into the driveway close to midnight.

The surgery itself went incredibly well. On average, it takes an hour and half to perform, but mine was under an hour. I have minimal pain, except the pressure and fullness from the still dissipating CO2 they pumped into my abdomen to assist the surgery (hence the massive burps I mentioned in the paragraph above). The hardest things are that I need Tim’s help to sit or stand, and Ellie keeps begging me to pick her up, which I can’t do for the next two weeks. I spent most of yesterday resting in a recliner at Nana’s house, napping and watching cooking shows.

I’m thankful to be home, thankful it’s over, and very thankful to everyone who prayed for me. I carried every one of you with me when I went into to the operating room, and felt safer because I knew, whatever the outcome, I was swaddled with your prayers and cradled by Abba.

Thank you. I love you all. ❤