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Book Review: Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman (minor spoiler alert)

 I feel inspired to write a really thoughtful, dignified, essay-like review at the moment. I just don't know if the words or motivation are quite there.

Needless to say--as I'm sure you all already know, I'm just a bit late on the uptake--Neil Gaiman is a brilliant author. I absolutely adore his style: it's funny, it's sad, it's both straightforward and completely roundabout. This book is written in such an ironic tone--ironic and matter-of-fact--and is, for the most part, a story stripped to the bare bones of plot; exactly like a folk tale--like the folk tales slipped in between events throughout the book. I say "for the most part" because there are little snippets and passages that don't really adhere to that general rule, in that they really have very little to do with the progression of the plot, but they add so much to the atmosphere, the characters, and the tone. The instance that stands out to me most is the little focus-moment on the lime that Fat Charlie receives from the taxi driver: "It was only a lime; there was nothing special about it at all. It was doing the best it could." (263) And the lime does build some amount of significance, first as an identifier for Charlie on the island, and then as a substitute for an engagement ring in a tight situation. So perhaps there was something special about it after all.

The characters in this story are brilliant--especially, of course, the two who make up the title and focus of the book, Anansi's boys, Charlie and Spider. I love that you spend most of the book agreeing with Fat Charlie in thinking that he is an unfortunate, mundane human being with extreme stage fright; and thinking that Spider is literally a person created (accidentally?) out of all of the god powers that Charlie should have had. I love that Spider's whole outlook on life begins to change from the instant he meets Charlie--first he learns about true love as he experiences it with Rosie, and almost simultaneously he learns about guilt as he proceeds to ruin Charlie's life. In the mean time, Fat Charlie begins to change too, becoming more forward and self-assured--and then of course, he discovers that he never really lost his powers--he and Spider are both whole and magical sons of a trickster god, despite having begun as the same person. And he becomes as confident as Spider used to be, while Spider learns some restraint and gentleness from his relationship with Rosie and his newly discovered affection for his brother. And I love that Charlie is finally just called Charlie at the end, signifying, without any fanfare and hardly even any acknowledgement, his transition into the new, confident, singing person that he is. And I love the last scene with Charlie and his young son Marcus, and how natural it seems, then and throughout the book, that creatures like the mermaid, and all of the story Creatures at the beginning of the world, actually exist. And I love the bits about the ghosts and their little sideline stories which most of the other characters remain completely oblivious of. And I love that Charlie keeps the hat.

And I just love this book a lot. I hope I didn't spoil it too much, and I hope that a lot of people read it. And now I'm going to read some more Neil Gaiman, because I am liking this for sure.

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Tags: anansi-boys, book-review, books, fiction, neil-gaiman

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Comment by Michelle on September 27, 2013 at 5:24am

LOOOVE this book. So glad you did too.

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