I hadn’t read any Gaiman until I heard of him from Patrick Rothfuss. Rothfuss is a big fan of his, and since I liked his book The Name of the Wind, I was willing to try one of his favorite authors. I am glad I did. American Gods, the first book of Gaiman’s that I read, was an outstanding story of a class between the old gods of mythology, and the new gods of technology. Being a fan of Norse Mythology helped bring that book to life for me. Odin and Loki were two of the main characters.
In Anansi Boys, a similar thread is picked up. Anansi is a West African character prevalent in many cultural stories. You should learn more about it him here. He appeared in American Gods, and in Anansi Boys, we learn about Anansi’s children; Fat Charlie and Spider.
Fat Charlie hates his father. He hasn’t seen him in many years and he is not upset at all about it. When Fat Charlie was a child, his father embarrassed him all of the time. Now Fat Charlie will do anything to avoid an embarrassing situation. But when Fat Charlie’s father dies, he feels obligated to head home and bury his father.
While back in Florida, Fat Charlie learns he has a brother named Spider, and that his father was a god. Fat Charlie doesn’t believe a word of it. However, he soon has to confront his brother and his heritage. The story follows Fat Charlie and Spider as they learn about each other and confront their enemies, both in this world, and where the gods live.
Gaiman’s stories are unlike any other I’ve read. I typically read historical fiction or fantasy, with some science fiction and thrillers thrown in. Gaiman’s stories seem to be of fantastic and unbelievable scenarios, yet he brings them utterly to life. He weaves the impossible into everyday reality. His writing takes on a lyrical quality as well, and often you find yourself rereading a passage for the sheer joy of it. Let me share one of my favorites:
Daisy looked up at him with the kind of expression that Jesus might have given someone who had just explained that he was probably allergic to bread and fishes, so could He possibly do him a quick chicken salad: there was a pity in that expression, along with almost infinite compassion.
You should read that a few times over. I know I have. It makes me smile every time.
If you like a good story and want to read something different then pick up this book, American Gods, or Stardust (I forgot about Stardust for a minute. If you don’t have time for the book, definitely watch the movie).
4 stars – See the explanation of the ratings