Bewildering Stories

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Book Review:
Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

by Jerry Wright

Anansi Boys
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Trade Paper: 352 pages
Price: $26.95
When I bought books to read to my kids, there was one dealing with Anansi the Spider. Anansi is a West African Trickster God, right up there with Coyote, from Native American legends. Neil Gaiman's first story of Anansi came from the award winning book American Gods, and now we get to see, as it were, what happens next.

Fat Charlie Nancy is an American expatriate living in London. Why "Fat Charlie" for a guy who isn't particularly overweight? Well, for some reason, he does look a little soft around the edges, and besides, his father, Mr. Nancy, gave him the name when he was a kid, and it just seemed to stick. Fat Charlie lives a dull, but pretty contented life, and is about to be married when he learns that his father has died back in Florida. So he is forced to head back to a place he hasn't been in decades, where he learns that not only is his dead father a real African God, but that he has a brother he's never heard of, "Spider". And all hell begins to break loose.

Neil says in an interview at

"At his father's funeral (he) learns that Mr Nancy Sr. was actually a God, an incarnation of the West African spider god Anansi. Learning this, he asks, not unreasonably, why as Nancy's son he has no supernatural acumen. His mother responds, nonplussed, 'Oh, your brother got all of those'. Describing the book, Gaiman comments that it is a "funny, scary, romantic comedy, thriller about Gods and the Supernatural and the power of stories and so on. I guess it's about how to survive families

...Anansi Boys is spiced with horror, and it has humour in it, and it has myths and detectives, and balls to the wall horror and thriller stuff and so on, but that's not what it is. What it is is a book about people, but I get to do all these other things."

No doubt... When he meets Spider, his new brother steps in, takes over his house, his job, and his fiancee'. And then, things get even worse.

Anansi Boys is heartwarming, chilling, entertaining, and at times, laugh-out-loud funny. I highly recommend this book as a premier example of the story-teller's art.

Copyright © 2006 Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories

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