If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always had.

Monday, June 09, 2008

"Anansi Boys"

I must confess, I'd never heard of Neil Gaiman until we watched "Stardust" on DVD. Somewhere in the credits was a blurb that it was based on a book. I missed it, but Eric didn't, and a few days later he came home with a bag full of Neil Gaiman books.

I started to read "Anansi Boys" a few months ago, but I had a hard time getting into it and put it back down. It sat under my night stand until Saturday, when I found it again. I was looking for something else and shuffling through piles of stuff when I found it and thought maybe I'd try reading it again.

Once I figured out the writing style, it was a surprisingly easy read, but that took a little time. I was reading it after church yesterday and told the family that it was a very strange book. That's when I realized it's written very much like a Lemony Snickett book aimed at an older audience. It was just the paradigm shift I needed to zoom through the rest of the book.

It's really quite a lovely coming of age/finally growing up story. The protagonists are two brothers, Fat Charlie, who is a doormat in the beginning, and Spider, who has it all and takes what he wants. It is sprinkled with dry-as-a-bone humor (Neil Gaiman was raised in England, if that helps) and Anansi folklore.* All in all, it's a great beach or hammock story, and with summer coming on, there should be opportunities for anyone to read it. It's appropriate for pre-teens and up; there is some fighting and reference to sex, but it's far less than one would see in a thirty minute sitcom. (I'd be more specific, but I gave up watching sitcoms years ago. I'm basing my opinion on commercials and what I see passing through when the kids get control of the remote.) It has a wide array of characters who have odd idiosyncrasies, not one of whom failed to make me laugh at some point.

I was curious about whether his writing style was Lemony Snickett-esque all time or whether it was specific to this book. I started reading "American Gods" last night, and so far it seems to be just that book. I'll report back when I've finished.

*I had no idea what Anansi was at first. Honestly, I looked at 'Anansi' and my brain translated 'Anasazi', as in the ancient Pueblo tribe. That could account for my initial confusion and may give more insight to the inner workings of my convoluted little brain that anyone wants. Once I finally got it straight, I remembered seeing a book when I worked in the library in Italy about Anansi; I shelved it quickly because Anansi is a spider, and even cartoon spiders make me do the yucky dance.



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