Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Report: Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

I haven't read much Gaiman. I caught his collaboration with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens (the nice and accurate prophesies of Agnes Nutter, witch) a number of years ago, but I've never read more than a single issue of Sandman (it was good, though). I'm beginning to think I ought to start reading more of his work. His latest, the Graveyard Book, is a multiple award-winner.

Anansi Boys is the story of a timid and uninteresting man who discovers his father was the African trickster god Anansi, and that he has a brother who inherited the god powers. Their meeting sets in motion a terrible case of sibling rivalry and a plot to settle a vendetta as old as the world.

It's a strange book, mixing humor with dark fantasy that borders on horror (although I didn't find myself the least bit scared by it) and Gaiman has a flair for pointing out the absurdity of human behavior that made me laugh several times. This is a told tale, and the narrator intrudes several times, especially during the denouement, which took me out of the in-the-moment immersion I enjoy in a book. On the other hand, since the book is also about stories, the intrusive presence of a narrator is a necessary bit of thematic reflection.

The characters are entertaining, each having depths and unexpected quirks that provide a sense of verisimilitude. The plot moves quickly, with plenty of twists, and the themes could not be larger than the nature of stories and the place of people in them.

Neil Gaiman's Home

Ulysses Rating: 3 - I enjoyed this.

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