Nearly forgotten in today’s modern world, the old gods live on. They exist in those shadowy and obscure pl...moreA Delightfully Entertaining Modern Mythology
Nearly forgotten in today’s modern world, the old gods live on. They exist in those shadowy and obscure places far from the limelight, and their power has waned, but they live on. In Anansi Boys, Fat Charlie Nancy discovers this fact much to his surprise and discomfort. The circumstances of Fat Charlie’s ordered life shift drastically and humorously as author Neil Gaiman leads us through a wild and wacky tale that teeters on the brink of what is real and what is not of this world.
Fat Charlie is not at all fat, yet he cannot rid himself of the unflattering nickname his father bestowed on him. He has done all he can humanly do to distance himself from his father, an eccentric and embarrassing old man, including a move to England to put an ocean between them. Fat Charlie hasn’t spoken to his father in years, but Rosie, his fiancée, pressures Fat Charlie into inviting the much senior Nancy to their fast-approaching wedding. In his conversation with an old neighbor, Mrs. Higgler, Fat Charlie learns his father has died suddenly and unexpectedly—not to mention embarrassingly—on a karaoke stage. Fat Charlie returns to Florida to pay his last respects and bury his father, although he hadn’t planned on doing quite that much shoveling. While in Florida, Fat Charlie learns the utterly unbelievable truth about his father. And the truth is that old Mr. Nancy was none other than Anansi the Trickster, a god from the beginnings of time itself. As if that news were not enough, Fat Charlie also learns that he is not, as he had always believed, his father’s only son.
It is only after he returns to England that Fat Charlie meets this brother, Spider, and the pleasantly drab life Fat Charlie had so carefully woven begins to unravel in an series of bizarre events that defy explanation using any known natural laws of the universe. At the forefront of all of Fat Charlie’s difficulties is his carefree brother, who appears to be a magnet for mischief and mayhem. The author points to two critical forces that drive the events in Fat Charlie’s life. First, "Human beings do not like being pushed about by gods. They may seem to, on the surface, but somewhere on the inside, underneath it all, they sense it, and they resent it." And, second, there is an ancient rivalry between Anansi and Tiger—-a bitter enmity between elder gods that now centers on Fat Charlie.
Anansi Boys, Gaiman’s side-splitting sequel to American Gods, is a tale to be treasured for the author’s keen wit, stinging irony, and inimitable blend of dark and whimsical humor. But be very cautious; once you’ve read Anansi Boys, you’ll be tempted to read it again…just to be sure Anansi, the trickster god, hasn’t changed the story since you closed the cover.
A Neil Gaiman Feast... As if he had written it expressly for those who think they have no reason to read an anthology, author Neil Gaiman presents a s...moreA Neil Gaiman Feast... As if he had written it expressly for those who think they have no reason to read an anthology, author Neil Gaiman presents a smorgasbord of thirty-one very good reasons in Fragile Things. While this collection of short fiction cannot provide the same experience as feasting on one of his novels, it does allow a reader the time to savor and digest each delicate morsel before moving on to the next bite. What a delightful literary meal!
In Fragile Things, Gaiman serves up an erratically varied stew of short fiction, which, for some readers, may be somewhat unsettling. Perhaps foreseeing this possibility, the author has included an informative and entertaining introduction that is useful in appreciating the pieces presented thereafter. These tidbits, introductory background notes regarding each tale or bit of poetry, are helpful in the reader’s full understanding of the author’s work. It is within the introduction, also, that one discovers which pieces have been awarded critical recognition, such as Locus Award-winning “October in the Chair”, or Hugo Award-winning “A Study in Emerald”, the latter an unusual blending of H.P. Lovecraft and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In predictably unpredictable Gaiman fashion, a thirty-second short piece, “The Mapmaker”, is found tucked neatly into the introduction.
The range of subject matter is wide, yet the voice throughout is unmistakably Gaiman: his stories contain an irrational plausibility that seems to stem from the ease with which he appears to write. To entertain his fans and to entice new readers, the author offers his readers appetizers such as a trip to hell in “Other People” and a brief foray into the world of filmdom’s “The Matrix” in the short story “Goliath”. Those who are familiar with Gaiman’s earlier work will revel in Gaiman’s tales and in the poems scattered between them. As an added incentive for his followers to remain faithful, the author closes the anthology with “The Monarch of the Glen”, a novella that revisits the world and main character made popular in his earlier, widely acclaimed novel, American Gods.
The poems and short stories nestled between the covers of Fragile Things afford glimpses of the author’s creativity; each view comes from a slightly different perspective, under varied shades of light and dark, and yet all are seen through the same prism—that fragile thing that is Neil Gaiman’s boundless imagination. This collection will become a welcome addition on the shelf of any Gaiman fan, and is an open invitation to the uninitiated. Welcome to the banquet. There’s a place at the head of the table just for you, dear reader.