Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman

2005; 387 pages. Awards : Locus Award, British Fantasy Society Award, Mythopoeic Award (all 2006). A NY Times #1 Best Seller (2005). Gaiman declined to have it nominated for a Hugo Award (which seems a bit strange). Genre : Contemporary Fantasy. Overall Rating : 9½*/10.
Fat Charlie is in London, unenthusiastically planning his wedding, when word comes that his estranged father has died while on a karaoke stage in Florida. He reluctantly travels across the pond to pay his respects, and learns two surprising facts. First, his father was a god (Anansi). Second, he has a brother (Spider). The brothers meet, and Gaimanesque insanity ensues.
What's To Like...
This is a wonderfully-written book; full of humor, wit, murder and mayhem, love, and unexpected twists and turns. We won't give any details here, as spoilers would ruin the reading experience.
The brothers constitute a complete Odd Couple. Fat Charlie is the epitome of boring normalcy, but you can't help but like him. Spider lives for the moment, is all about excitement and not having ties to anything, and seems to have inherited all of his father's magical abilities. You can't help but warm to him as well.
All the characters (and gods) are interesting, and even the baddies have a certain charm. The story wraps up neatly, and you're left wanting more.
Kewl New Words...
Lubricious : Having a smooth and slippery quality (I guess I should've deduced that one). Nictitating : Blinking the eyes. Koan : A puzzling, paradoxical statement or story. Snog : to touch with the lips against someone's mouth, cheek, etc. as an expression of love or greeting. Saveloy : A ready-cooked and highly-seasoned sausage.
It begins, as most things begin, with a song.
In the beginning, after all, were the words, and they came with a tune. That was how the world was made, how the void was divided, how the lands and the stars and the dreams and the little gods and the animals, how all of them came into the world. (opening paragraphs, pg. 1)
Until now Spider had regarded women as more or less interchangeable. You didn't give them a real name, or an address that would work for longer than a week, of course, or anything more than a disposable cell-phone number. Women were fun, and decorative, and terrific accessories, but there would always be more of them, like bowls of goulash coming along a conveyor belt, when you were done with one, you simply picked up the next, and spooned in your sour cream. (pg. 186)
Anansi Boys is a spin-off of American Gods, but is not as dark and not as epical. The fate of the world doesn't hang in the balance; just the family sanity. Yet that doesn't mean it's a lesser work. Essentially, it plays "The Hobbit" to AG's "Lord of the Rings". I really can't think of any negatives to point out. So we'll give it 9½ Stars, and recommend it highly to all Gaimaniacs.


Amanda said...

One of these days I'm going to get the courage up to read another of Gaiman's adult books. I love his YA and children's book but American Gods really turned me off the adult stuff. I've heard Anansi boys is a million times better.

Hamilcar Barca said...

it's closely akin to, American Gods, but definitely lighter and more upbeat.

i bought Liz Coraline for Christmas. She read it, and will only say that it is "weird". i need to read it one of these days to see how Gaiman's YA stuff compares to his Adult books.

Lula O said...

oooo, I think I'd really like this one. can't beat 9.5 stars! I like it when family drama exceeds my own. makes me feel better about myself.

Hamilcar Barca said...

Spider and Fat Charlie put the "fun" back into "dysfunctional"