Anansi Boys

Sometimes you know an author. You know he’s the mind behind this movie and that series. He’s a comic writer and you’ve already read a book of his. Sometimes one book leads to the next.

In my case this writer is Neil Gaiman. After I read “Good Omens” a few years ago, after I first saw and then read “American Gods” I learned, that Mr. Nancy – the trickster Anansi – has two sons: the Anansi Boys

The story in short

“Anansi Boys”, to put that first, is no sequal to “American Gods” even though both books have one thing in common: Anansi the Spider a.k.a. Mr. Nancy

Different to the Mr. Nancy of “American Gods” this one had been married and is father of a son, Charles “Fat Charlie” Nancy.

Charles is an average man, leading a live as average as a live can be. He is an accountant in an artist agency, betrothed and without a real love-life. His mother-in-law to be is a dragon, his boss a weasel. And then his father dies.

Until this day Charles’ life had been more or less OK. Then again at his father’s funeral Charlie learns that he has a brother and when said brother steps into Fat Charlie’s average life, nothing is average anymore. Spider Nancy in opposite to Charles seams be very much his father.

How’s the reading?

Due to the one figure in common (and the same author) it is natural to compare “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys”. But it is like comparing “Beverly Hills Cop” and “The Silence of the Lambs”. Both movies are crime stories and both are about a killer. And that’s all they have in common.

It is similar with the “American Gods” and the “Anansi Boys”. Since the older book has – despite some singular moments, Anansi moments at most – a more serious tone, the newer one is full of humour. It is not the kind of humour that makes me rolling on the floor and laugh every few minutes. It is the silent kind of humour that makes me smile, broadly grin sometimes, even giggle inwardly. That makes it possible to read the book even in public transport without getting into trouble.

Sometimes the story reminds me even to absurdities of Terry Pratchett. The four elderly ladies in Florida who helped Charles in a magical way for instance reminded me to the the witch circle around Mistress Weatherwax out of Pratchetts Disc World novels.

The special about Neil Gaiman’s story is his vivid language. Mr. Gaiman does not only put places before my inner eye, lets me see London’s grey heaven and swarms of birds, Hitchcock couldn’t have shown better. He pictures even the character of the single figures.

Spider Nancy is a spider. His name tells it. His brother Charles is the absolute opposite. But he slowly developes into the Spider himself. At the same time the brothers show the two sides of the archetypical trickster: the smart and cunning on the one side and the foolish on the other. Of course that difference between the brothers has a reason that is revealed at the end. Neil Gaiman uses a picture even here, a star fish. But shush! It would be a spoiler to tell more now.

Fat Charlie’s boss Graham Coats on the other side is a weasel. Whenever he appears in the book, you can see that weasel. I felt his tiny eyes on me, saw falseness dripping out of his words. I wanted to slap Charlie onto his head telling him not give away his password, especially not to a guy like Coats. Only once I thought him Tiger, Anansi’s arch enemy. But he lacked the boldness. A tiger kills openly. Graham Coats does not dare to. He kills from behind, devious. He’s a weasel.

What do I have to mind while reading?

I already mentioned that there are parallels to “American Gods”. Well, on parallel. Keep that in mind and then forget about the other book. You don’t need that book. Only Mr. Nancy’s sense of humour and the fact, that Nancy is the personification of the African trickster god Anansy, connects the books. Don’t try to find a connection. There is none.

It doesn’t matter though if you don’t manage to keep “American Gods” out of your mind. You will see soon that the “Anansi Boys” stand for their own. In the end all stories belong to Anansi, all stories are Anansi stories.

Anansi himself is a joker and thus the story reads. Thus you should read the book – with a lot of fun. And don’t forget to smile while reading. Anansi would appreciate it.

Story:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Style:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Fun reading:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Average:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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