Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Book Reviewed:  Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

After finishing Wuthering Heights, I decided I needed to read a book that I knew would be completely different.  Something with a lighter touch.  So obviously, I turned to my old favorite, Neil Gaiman.  I know what you're thinking.  Beth still hasn't read every Neil Gaiman novel out there?  Nope, I haven't.  But now I'm one step closer because I settled on Gaiman's Anansi Boys as an anecdote to Heathcliff and Catherine.

Like American Gods, Anansi Boys is about the gods that live among us in the real world.  This book focuses on the sons of Anansi, the African trickster god.  Fat Charlie, an extremely average guy living in London, finds out his estranged father has died in Florida, and when he flies there for the funeral, he finds out from an old neighbor that he has a brother he doesn't remember.  Fat Charlie (who isn't fat, just a little soft and easily embarrassed) ends up meeting this brother, Spider, and things begin to spin out of control.  Spider is everything Fat Charlie isn't - confident, charming, and with powers like their father.  Spider wrecks havoc on Fat Charlie's life, and when Fat Charlie tries to get rid of his newfound brother, things get even worse.  In the meantime, love is lost and won, a conniving businessman commits murder, and trickster stories are shared.  The book ends up being about a man, Fat Charlie, who learns to be his true self.

Anansi Boys is quite funny, particularly in the sections focusing on Grahame Coats, Charlie's horrible boss.  As always, Gaiman's writing is smooth and easy to read, with a few nice moments between characters.  Overall, though, I thought the book was lacking in, say, the emotional complexities of American Gods or Coraline.  I wanted more scenes between Fat Charlie and Spider, as I thought this book would be more about the brothers' relationship than it actually was.  I can't say this is a Gaiman novel I'll go back and happily reread, but it was a pleasant enough experience.  And it washed the taste of tortured love affairs right out of my mouth. 

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