By: Neil Gaiman
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie “Fat Charlie.” Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can’t shake that name, one of the many embarrassing “gifts” his father bestowed — before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie’s life.
Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie’s doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who’s going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun … just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.
Because, you see, Charlie’s dad wasn’t just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.
I think this is the last full-length Neil Gaiman novel that I haven’t read it. Maybe that’s why I had been stalling on reading it, to savour it. Or maybe I was waiting for Hallowe’en to come around. But anyway, I finally got around to reading it last month 🙂
The more I read this, the more I was thinking that perhaps should’ve been adapted into a television miniseries instead of American Gods. Not that American Gods wasn’t perfect for televsion, but there’s something more tangibly relateable about this book, namely the relationship between the two brothers, Fat Charlie and Spider, and Fat Charlie and the important people in his life. The way parents can embarrass you and the way some things they did irritated you but later become something of a fond memory, the way sibling relationships go…It’s very relateable.
And I felt for Fat Charlie. Poor guy just wanted to live a quiet, sensible life and then his eccentric father dies and the moment he reaches out to his brother, everything just goes straight to hell. You can see the trainwreck coming a mile away and it is butt-clenchingly awkward as his world is turned upside down. Along with it was a financial mystery (surprising, but it’s so Neil Gaiman and it does connect to the main story) as well as the supernatural elements. The storytelling about the old OLD gods were really interesting, very mysterious, full of wonder, but they can also be very dark and dangerous. The enemies that encircle the Anansi boys are very dangerous indeed and you get a sense of that the further along the story you go.
But it’s quite a character journey for Fat Charlie, coming to terms who his father was, what his brother is, what he really is. Yeah, his comfortable life is really turned upside down and he’s thrown out of his comfort zone but I really got a sense of confidence from the character by the end of the book and realised just how much I enjoyed seeing that progress (butt-clenching mortification aside).
Overall I really enjoyed Anansi Boys; couldn’t really put it down once the story really got cracking. I think I enjoy it a bit more than American Gods in that there’s that personal story that readers can relate to and the pace of the story is quite steady. Highly recommend it!