Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Anansi Boys

Anansi BoysAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

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I have this weird situation.  I own about 500-750 books, and I've weeded them down a handful of times over the years, so most of those books remain unread.  Even though I don't buy as many books as I used to purchase, I still get the occasional book, such as anything by Neil Gaiman.  The thing is, I also work in a library, so I'm constantly reading book reviews, and finding new books that I want to read, sometimes at the tune of about one every day, so in order to keep the river of books flowing, I prioritize the books I want to read as library books first.  Unfortunately, this means that I tend to never read the books that I buy, since I always have at least one book checked out from the library.  This wasn't that big of an issue until Anansi Boys came out.  I bought it, knowing I was going to read it, but I wanted to read it right away, even though my library books took priority.  What to do?

The answer?  I checked a copy out from the library.

I don't like using the f-word a whole lot, but I'm afraid I will have to do so: I'm a Neil Gaiman fanboy.  He could publish his grocery list, and I'd likely buy a copy of it.  I've had the pleasure of meeting him at a convention, and he's the most gracious, polite, and humble writer I've ever met.  This could be because I met him after meeting Harlan Ellison, but I doubt it.  Neil is pleasant and likeable, and is quite possibly the best writer of recent years.

I bring this up because it's nearly impossible for me to give a biased review of any of his writings.  Even his mediocre stuff, to me, glows with a life unique only to Neil, and it always makes me feel like all is right with the world.  Stardust has to be one of the best books I've read, and Coraline is a perfect example of the lesson that many horror writers should learn: Atmosphere first, monsters second.  The fact that Neil could use black buttons to such great effect in that books still awes me.

Anansi Boys is a pseudo-sequel to Neil's best-selling American Gods, in that it uses a character from that novel, but only as a starting point.  Anansi the Spider God has two sons, and when he dies, they meet for the first time.  That things get a bit weird from there is a given (one appears to have no magical abilities, while the other could likely be a sorcerer), but Neil pulls it off with class, style, and a great sense of humor.  There are some dark moments in this book, but it's usually tempered through that sense of humor, and comes across as a sort of comic slapstick.  There are some sincerely dark and disturbing moments in the book, but given the amount of adventure that takes place within, it would have been hard to write the story without some peril involved.

I can't say that this is my favorite Neil Gaiman novel, but it's certainly better than a lot of other stuff that I've read.  It follows along on his usual style of innocence and life merging in a head-on collision, without being preachy or melodramatic.  That he also incorporates myth, legend, and fairy tales into it all is a plus for me, since I still have a soft spot for those sorts of stories.

Then again, being a fanboy of his makes my praise a little suspect, so if you feel that you need to take it with a grain of salt, I won't be offended. 

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June 22, 2006 - Posted by | Adult Fiction, Reviews

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