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Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Neil Gaiman

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14,083305146 (3.94)281
Title:Anansi Boys
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Info:HarperTorch (2006), Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

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Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (2005)

Anansi (123) British (69) brothers (96) England (65) family (94) fantasy (2,245) fiction (1,517) folklore (100) gaiman (199) gods (311) hardcover (81) humor (249) magic (91) magical realism (66) modern fantasy (64) myth (78) mythology (650) Neil Gaiman (160) novel (192) own (77) read (232) science fiction (183) sf (56) sff (131) signed (158) speculative fiction (63) spiders (131) to-read (202) unread (110) urban fantasy (282)

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English (296)  German (2)  Finnish (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (303)
Showing 1-5 of 296 (next | show all)
4.5 stars
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I love Neil Gaiman. You know that old 1960s footage of the all the American girls jumping up and down screaming hysterically when the Beatles visited the US? That's how I feel about Neil Gaiman. (Okay, maybe I wouldn't scream or pass out, but I sure think he's cool.) I like his style -- his writing is easy, intelligent, well-edited, dryly humorous, and just plain charming.

Anansi Boys is no exception, and it's especially charming in audio format, thanks to Lenny Henry, an English stand-up comedian whose deep rich voice and character comedy is absolutely perfect for this novel which is based on the African/Caribbean mythology of the trickster spider god Anansi (introduced in American Gods). Henry's voices are brilliant (especially the old Caribbean women) and he had me literally smiling nearly all the way through the story. Actually, if it weren't for Lenny Henry, I'd have to say that I probably would only give this novel 4 stars instead of 4.5.

That's because this is not Gaiman's tightest work. It's about Fat Charlie, a Floridian turned Englishman, who was leading a rather dull life as an honest accountant until the brother he didn't know he had turns up and he finds out that they are both the sons of the god Anansi. This is all very entertaining, especially for a Floridian who enjoyed Charlie's travels to places I know, and Gaiman tells his humorous story with the usual charm:

"Fat Charlie tried to remember what people did in prison to pass the time, but all he could come up with was keeping secret diaries and hiding things in their bottoms. He had nothing to write on, and felt that a definite measure of how well one was getting on in life was not having to hide things in one's bottom .... Nothing happened. Nothing continued to happen. More Nothing. The Return of Nothing. Son of Nothing. Nothing Rides Again. Nothing and Abbott and Costello meet the Wolfman..."

But at the end there were some things I still didn't understand: what exactly was the origin of Spider (I can't say as much as I'd like to about this because I don't want to spoil it), why weren't the other gods (and even Anansi himself) more fully characterized? The scenes involving the god-world were sketchy -- we really get only a minimal understanding of Tiger, Anansi's eternal enemy -- and Charlie's sudden understanding and acceptance of his powers happens too fast. And then there were some oddities that just didn't seem to fit in -- like the ghost of one of Charlie's boss's clients.

But, even with these minor disappointments, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this novel because Neil Gaiman wrote it and Lenny Henry read it. Recommended, especially in audio format.
Read more Neil Gaiman book reviews at Fantasy Literature . ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Very realistic for fantasy. Grown-up - I'll definitely read more from him. ( )
  jerhogan | Mar 27, 2014 |
Thanks, Chase, for getting me to read a lot of Neil Gaiman books, something I've been saying I'd do but never got around to doing until now. I'm not enamored of Gaiman and his stories: stylistically there's little to complain about, and his characters certainly do procure some amusing dialogue. But beyond that I find myself having little emotional attachment to any of his books so far. His stories will make for fine discussions, but there is not nearly as much "wiggle room" in terms of personal interpretation of themes as I typically enjoy in books for higher-level discussion classes. ( )
1 vote stephxsu | Feb 17, 2014 |
I enjoyed this book a great deal. It was suspenseful and it was funny. It explored myth and venerated the act of storytelling. It leavened its adventure story with a few thought-provoking comments on the transmission of culture through fables.

Gaiman does a good job with humorous turns of phrase, reminding me at several points of Douglas Adams, though I suspect a wider study would reveal much earlier practitioners of the style.

I might have given the book a slightly lesser rating at some other time, but I've been on an unfortunate trend with books lately. This one was so enjoyable that it seems top-notch by comparison. The overall story may not stick with me as well as some of my favorite books do over the long haul, but it revealed some myths with which I was mostly unfamiliar, and it made me feel rather good about the role of stories in general. That deserves an extra bit of recognition, surely, so Anansi Boys gets my hearty overall approval. ( )
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
First Fat Charlie Nancy discovers his father is dead, then he discovers that his dead father is actually the West African trickster god Anansi, then he finds out he has an estranged brother, and then things really get weird.

I feel like so many writers want to focus on the Greek, Egyptian, or even Norse gods so much that we forget about the African gods. And these are the gods with the most interesting stories because they are both animal and man at the same time, and the animal stories are some of the oldest told.

Anansi is the god with all the stories. And as a writer, I can't imagine how hard it must have been to tell the story of the ultimate storyteller. It's almost something that goes beyond meta into the realms of possible insanity. This is a testament to how good Neil Gaiman's writing is. He tells the story of the storyteller's sons while sharing the old stories needed to tell the story.

Where's Xzibit when you need him?

My copy is one I picked up from a bookstore for two dollars in their "beach read" section. It's quite literally falling apart. The last sixty pages have become separated and fall out easily. Well-worn doesn't really begin to cover it.

This book is equal parts hilarious, fascinating, exciting, terrifying, magical, and sweet. Most definitely worth the read. ( )
  regularguy5mb | Jan 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 296 (next | show all)
Gaiman kutoo tapansa mukaan sujuvan ja houkuttelevan kertomuksen, joka ammentaa tarinoiden ja myyttien maailmasta. Sujuvan lukukokemuksen viimeistelee onnistunut suomennos.

Gaimaniin mieltyneille Hämähäkkijumala on puolipakollinen kirjahyllyn täyte ja kevytfantasiaa hakeville ihan yhtä hyvä tutustumiskirja kuin mikä tahansa varhaisempi romaani. Vaikka kirjan juoni ei juuri yllätäkään, Gaiman esittelee tarinankertojan lahjaansa: kykyä tehdä mahdottomasta todenmakuista.
added by msaari | editKeskisuomalainen, Riku Ylönen (Jan 30, 2009)
And Charlie, who has become a successful singer and fathered a son, has come to terms with the powers and responsibilities of ''a boy who was half a god," having learned what Gaiman knows better, and communicates more forcefully, than any other contemporary writer: Stories and poems, songs and myths, represent us, sustain and complete us, and survive us, while also ensuring that all that's best in us survives with them.
added by stephmo | editBoston Globe, Bruce Allen (Nov 20, 2005)
The focus on Anansi and tricksters, I think, goes a long way towards explaining the tone of this novel. It really feels more like some of the established "funny" sci-fi/fantasy authors (like Gaiman's Good Omens co-author Terry Pratchett) than "classic" Neil.
added by stephmo | editPopMatters, Stephen Rauch (Nov 7, 2005)
The problem in "Anansi Boys" is the type of fantasy Gaiman has chosen. The tales of Anansi outwitting his foes leave you feeling you've eaten something heavy and sugary. There's an Uncle Remus folksiness to the stories that sends the airy blitheness of the farce plummeting down to earth.

There is also, I regret to say, the warm hand of instruction lying uneasily on this tale. Charlie works through his ineffectualness and his family issues to find happiness, contentment and - ugh - acceptance. It leaves you with the uncomfortable feeling that for Gaiman, farce by itself would simply have been too frivolous, that he feels the need to impart a lesson.
Anansi Boys contains a couple of traditional-style Anansi fables, and the book itself takes a similar ambling but wry, pointed tone; like any good Anansi story, it's about cleverness, appetite, and comeuppance, and it's funny in a smart, inclusive way. And like any good Gaiman book, it's about the places where the normal world and a fantastic one intersect, and all the insightful things they have to say about each other.

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neil Gaimanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Henry, LennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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You know how it is, you pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you.
Not this time.
Because we haven't yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven't seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other ....
This one's for you.
With you know what, and you probably know why.
NOTE: The author would like to take this opportunity to tip his hat respectfully to the ghosts of Zora Neale Hurston, Thorne Smith, P.G. Wodehouse, and Frederick "Tex" Avery.
First words
It begins, as most things begin, with a song.
The beast made the noise of a cat being shampooed, a lonely wail of horror and outrage, of shame and defeat.
"The ties of blood," said Spider, "Are stronger than water."

"Water's not strong," objected Fat Charlie.
"Stronger than vodka, then. Or volcanoes".
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Set in the same world as American Gods, but not a sequel to it.

In Anansi Boys we discover that 'Mr. Nancy' (Anansi) has two sons, and the two sons in turn discover each other. The novel follows their adventures as they explore their common heritage.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060515198, Mass Market Paperback)

Fat Charlie Nancy's normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn't know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother.

Now brother Spider's on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie's life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:53 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

One of fiction's most audaciously original talents, Neil Gaiman now gives us a mythology for a modern age -- complete with dark prophecy, family dysfunction, mystical deceptions, and killer birds. Not to mention a lime. Anansi Boys God is dead. Meet the kids. 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. Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times bestseller, American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny -- a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King's glowing assessment of the author as "a treasure-house of story, and we are lucky to have him."… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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