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Spider man

Just finished reading Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. One of the best books I've read in awhile, and Gaiman's best since Neverwhere. (I really loved the first three-quarters or so of American Gods, but the end went off the rails a bit. But now I'm thinking I should re-read it.)

A good story, with good characters. Good women, especially: Daisy and Rosie and Maeve and the four old ladies and even Rosie's mother were all fascinating, and different, and complete characters. I'm wondering now whether the little old ladies in Florida were meant to come out of some specific mythology. I don't know my African mythology very well at all -- Ananzi is the only god from that pantheon I recognize offhand. Fat Charlie's evolution into a full person who stops denying his mystical heritage was really quite interesting and handled very well. And then we have Grahame Coates, who starts out looking like a characature but turns out to be an archetype, which I thought was a nice characterization twist. It's hard to create such a large cast and invest the reader in all of them, but Gaiman did so, and very well. The right balance of funny and thought-provoking and scary, too.

I've thought before that Gaiman is at his best when he's writing about stories and storytellers, and this just confirms it. Dream and Anansi (who is as much a god of stories as he is a trickster) are very different, but this book covers some of the same territory as the Sandman series, particularly regarding the power of stories to shape the world. Wholeheartedly recommended.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
heyheyrenay
Dec. 16th, 2006 10:01 am (UTC)
Neil Gaiman is a great writer, I think (well, he must be or people wouldn't fawn everywhere about him) but he honestly bores me with his endings. A lot. Like, Neverwhere? The book was great, but the ending fell flat. It felt rushed and tacked on. American Gods, once you get past the fact that Shadow is sort of flat it is probably okay. A lot of interesting ideas. I probably need to reread it, it's been awhile and I remember going, "what the heck is up with your endings, Gaiman!?" I worry about this with Good Omens, too, but there's an author I trust a lot involved there, so maybe it won't be too bad.
owlmoose
Dec. 16th, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC)
I don't remember having any issues with the ending of "Good Omens". Maybe it's Pratchett's influence, or maybe Gaiman's just spotty in that respect. It's not something I've noticed with his short stories at all; perhaps it's a natural problem for someone who is transitioning from shorter pieces (short stories, comic book episodes) to novel-length work.

Gaiman is one of my favorite writers and one of the only people I will consider buying in hardback. (I only held off on Anansi Boys because I had been a little disappointed by American Gods.)
heyheyrenay
Dec. 16th, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC)
See, I hadn't read any of Gaiman's work until Neverwhere and it was a surprise to me that oh, hey, he's already pretty famous! That's just me and my bad reading habits, though. ;) I guess I have a different perspective on his writing, if I had come in through his short work (which I rarely hear bad things about) I'd probably be a lot less forgiving. :)

What didn't you like about American Gods besides the ending (well, if anything)? Honestly, I was entertained by the entire concept (hello, amazing) but that ending, I don't know, pinged me the wrong way.
owlmoose
Dec. 16th, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, just the ending. Otherwise I loved it. But the ending (from Shadow on the tree onward) threw me off *so* much that it colored my entire view of the story.

Are you trying to tell me that you haven't read Sandman?!!??11eleven?
heyheyrenay
Dec. 16th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
*HIDES!*
...yes?
owlmoose
Dec. 16th, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
Re: *HIDES!*
....

*insert long paragraph about how wonderful that entire series is and how much you would love it here*
mythicbeast
Dec. 16th, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
Ahhh, I loved Anansi Boys. You're right; he's at his best when he's writing about storytellers, and about passing stories on. I like that theme about a lot of his work, since I enjoy the thought (however overly romantic it may be) that stories and words shape the world. It sort of makes being a writer feel more meaningful. xD
owlmoose
Dec. 16th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
I agree. :) Even before I started writing myself I felt that way, about the power of the written word. It's a theme he played with a lot in Sandman, but I think he made it much more explicit in Anansi Boys.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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