sugoll (sugoll) wrote,

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Anansi Boys

Here's my thoughts on Gaiman's Anansi Boys.

I'm not actually that much of a fan of Gaiman's prose. Much of American Gods bored me, to be honest, and I felt that I was missing a lot because I wasn't picking up on the cultural references - new or old. I think Gaiman's much better in the comic-book medium - or even the small-children's-book medium, where (like comics) the text is much more condensed.

So I wasn't optimistic about AB.

Turns out that I quite enjoyed it. I even laughed out loud in places.

It's the story of "Fat" Charlie Nancy, who discovers, shortly after the death of his father, that:
(a) His father was, well, not normal;
(b) Nor is Charlie's brother;
(c) Hold on - Charlie has a brother?

The two brothers meet and, very rapidly, Charlie's simple, dull, unnoticed life is spiraling rapidly out of control.

Typically for Gaiman, this is drenched in ancient folklore. I know nothing about Anansi, so assumed that this was a myth Gaiman had created; I should have known better. The main story is occasionally broken up by Anansi stories which, to place them in a Western context, are very much Brer-Rabbit-like. This was the part of the book that didn't appeal to me. Gaiman continually reminds me that I'm reading a book and that stops me losing myself in it, so lots of points off for that.

But even if - like me - you're woefully ignorant, AB has a good story in it and Gaiman manages to turn some nice phrases. His time on Good Omens has stood him in good stead, and sometimes it reads like Pratchett. But, to be honest, I think Pratchetts are usually better than AB is, at this point. Pratchetts seem to have more depth to the characters and the story. AB seemed a little light in comparison. Quite possibly, this is because I feel that, despite both containing fantasy elements, Pratchett keeps his protagonist (and his protagonist's problems) closer to the normal human experience.

What is good - and gets at least a few points back again - is that the hardback contains a ribbon bookmark, and extras.

Yes, that's right: extras. A deleted scene. An interview. It's a nice touch.

Overall, a good, enjoyable read, but not as satisfying as some of his earlier work.
Tags: books, neil gaiman
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