No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Monday, October 10, 2005

#87: Anansi Boys -- Neil Gaiman

Gaiman's prose style becomes more definite with every novel he writes: the marvellous told in simple words, repetition for comic (or dramatic) impact, the occasional dazzling simile all the more dazzling for the author's restraint.

This is the story of Fat Charlie. He's not fat, but his father gave him the nickname, and because his father is -- was -- a god, Anansi (the same incarnation as appeared in American Gods), the name stuck. Charlie only discovers this fact about his heritage when attending his father's funeral: a little later, he also learns that he has a brother. And then things go rapidly downhill. For Charlie, anyway.

One thing that doesn't seem to be mentioned in the reviews is that Gaiman, a Caucasian male, has written a novel in which very few of the characters are Caucasian. Is it somehow racist to say this? From my (white, female) perspective it feels as though he's done a good job with the British parts, at least.

The story's a simple enough one, in the way that myths and legends and folklore are simple. Charlie and his brother must learn to accept one another. A deal's made and then unmade. There is magic. There is also one of the most engaging ghosts I've seen in literature for a while, and some marvellously dark animal magic.

This reminds me more of Neverwhere than of American Gods, despite the fact that it shares its general theme (son of a god seeking heritage) with the latter. I think it's the journey, the maturing, that Fat Charlie undertakes: the sense, by the end, that he's arrived where he's supposed to be.

Did I mention? Also very funny. Darkly funny, in places: laugh-out-loud funny in others.

reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place

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