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"Where are we?"
"Behind the scenes," said Wednesday.
"Sorry?"
"Think of it as being behind the scenes. Like in a theater or something. I just pulled us out of the audience and now we're walking about backstage. It's a shortcut."

Shadow to Wednesday, Chapter Twelve

Backstage is a location in American Gods. It is an alternate plane where the gods traverse. Mr. Wednesday holds his meeting with the Old Gods at the House on the Rock. Later, he takes Shadow on a "shortcut" through the Backstage while trying to get away from the Spooks. The Battle of Gods at Rock City also takes place here.

Significance in narrative Edit

Chapter Five Edit

Shadow, Mr. Wednesday, Czernobog, and Mr. Nancy arrive at the Carousel Room at the House on the Rock. The carousel goes round and round without stopping because it is meant to be admired, not ridden. Wednesday then asks Shadow to help them onto the platform where he, Czernobog, and Mr. Nancy jump on board the carousel. Shadow joins them, feeling more uneasy breaking the rules at the carousel than he did robbing the bank that morning.

Once on the carousel, each of the men select a mount with Wednesday picking a golden wolf, Czernobog choosing an armored centaur, and Nancy climbing on a roaring lion. Shadow eventually selects a tiger with an eagle's head to ride. The four men laugh and enjoy their ride on the carousel as the Blue Danube waltz plays and the lights glistened. Then, the lights go out and Shadow sees the gods.

Chapter Six Edit

When the lights go out on the carousel at the House on the Rock, the only illumination is from starlight as the eagle-headed tiger beneath Shadow seems to come to life. He is able to see multiple dimensions with Mr. Nancy appearing to him in all his various forms. The creatures they're now riding trot them to a wooden hall on a hill. Czernobog tells Shadow that none of it is really happening and it's all in his head. Shadow also sees Czernobog in his various forms as Wednesday steers his giant wolf over to Shadow's side and tells him his various names, leading Shadow to ask if Wednesday is Odin, which Wednesday confirms.

They enter Valaskjalf, Odin's old hall, as Mr. Nancy explains to Shadow they're in Wednesday's mind. Wednesday is upset that there aren't as many people waiting for them in the hall as he expected. Mr. Nancy steps up as the "warm-up" man and tells the crowd of Old Gods a story about how he stole Tiger's balls and blamed it on Old Monkey, which is why to this day, Tiger chases monkeys. Wednesday next stands before the people gathered. He gives them a speech about how the New Gods are growing in America and it is now time for the Old Gods to act. Mama-ji gets into an argument with Wednesday, saying they only have to wait for the New Gods to die out like the ones of the past. Wednesday tells them all they have already lost everything and he is offering them the chance to take something back.

The fire burns out and the meeting ends. Shadow asks Mr. Nancy what happens next and Nancy says Wednesday buys them all dinner and will work them one-by-one over to his side. They are suddenly back in the Carousel Room and Wednesday is talking to what looks to be a group of tourists. Wednesday leads them out of the House on the Rock as Shadow asks Nancy if it really happened. Nancy replies, "Heck, nobody's allowed to ride the carousel. Didn't you see the signs? Now hush."

Chapter Twelve Edit

Shadow drives Wednesday in a Winnebago west into South Dakota and they start passing signs for Mount Rushmore (which Wednesday calls a holy place). They run into a roadblock set up by the Spooks and Wednesday tells Shadow to slow down while he draws runes on the dashboard. He then tells Shadow to speed up to 30 mph as he finishes the runes on the dash and has Shadow turn right and off the road.

They have entered a realm that Wednesday later calls "Backstage" and can no longer be seen by the Spooks. They get out of the Winnebago to walk and Shadow spots a mechanical spider next to a pile of bones and candles at the bottom of the hill. He falls down the hill, landing between the spider and the bones and accidentally touches a thighbone.

Shadow is transported into one of the Spooks, Mr. Town's, head. Town calls Mr. World to tell him they lost Shadow and Wednesday. He is angry because he thinks Shadow is the one who killed Mr. Wood and Mr. Stone back at the railroad car. Shadow recognizes Mr. World's voice from somewhere but can't place it. Mr. World complains about scheduling a policy meeting and tells Town to get back there and that they can try to get Shadow and Wednesday again later.

Wednesday pries the bone out of Shadow's hand and Shadow is Backstage again and they begin walking once more. Wednesday explains that Backstage is a shortcut and is like being behind the scenes at a theatre. The spider is like a search engine, which is why Shadow could see into Town's mind. As they keep walking, Shadow starts to feel sicker and sicker. Wednesday gives him something to drink to help fortify him, telling him it's not good to be walking around Backstage for too long.

Wednesday leads Shadow out of Backstage and back into the regular world where they arrive at a mobile home and encounter Whiskey Jack and John Chapman. They eat dinner while they discuss the oncoming war between the Old Gods and the New Gods with both Chapman and Whiskey Jack refusing to join either side.

Whiskey Jack starts talking to Shadow about death and Shadow's dreams and Thunderbirds. Whiskey Jack brings up Laura's not-dead state and the Buffalo and offers to help when Shadow finds his "tribe." Whiskey Jack then offers to trade his nephew's '81 Buick for Wednesday's Winnebago they left Backstage. As Chapman leaves with Shadow and Wednesday, Whiskey Jack tells Wednesday to never come back.

They walk into town and find Harry Bluejay at the rec hall and get the keys for the Buick. They drop Chapman off in Sioux Falls before stopping at a restaurant outside St. Paul. Shadow discovers the date is Valentine's Day with Wednesday telling him they walked almost a whole month while Backstage.

Chapter Fourteen Edit

When Shadow wants to join Mr. Nancy and Czernobog in the upcoming battle against the New Gods, they tell Shadow that it will take place somewhere he cannot go and cannot touch, "in the hearts and the minds of the people."

Chapter Seventeen Edit

Chapter Eighteen Edit

Time Edit

In America everything goes on forever, said a voice in the back of his head. The 1950s lasted for a thousand years. You have all the time in the world.

Chapter Eighteen

Time passes differently Backstage.

  • When Shadow and Wednesday first enter Backstage in Chapter Twelve, it is January 20 or 21. When they exit a short time later, it is February 14.
  • When Mr. Town returns to his car after being Backstage in Chapter Seventeen, his dashboard clock reads 6:37 am while his wristwatch reads 13:58.
  • When Easter and Horus arrive at the World Tree in Chapter Eighteen, The farmhouse is gone and Mr. Wednesday's corpse is now a skeleton. The ropes holding Shadow to the tree are weathered and rotted even though seemingly only a short time had passed since Shadow first climbed onto the tree.

Notes and trivia Edit

References Edit

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