Thursday, May 22, 2008

what I've been reading lately

I've been enjoying my foray into the bookclub world. I should have thought of this last year when I made that book a month resolution. I guess I work better with deadlines. Not that reading for pleasure should involve deadlines, but, oh, never mind.

Anyways, I recently finished Neil Gaiman's Anasi Boys.

It's a story of a young man named Fat Charlie who spent his entire life resenting his embarrassing father and doing everything he could as an adult to avoid being around him. When his dad dies, Fat Charlie finds out that dad was actually Anansi, the spider god. And he's got a brother he never knew he had who seems to have ended up with all the fun god powers. Trouble brews and Fat Charlie's comfortable pleasant life is disrupted in ways that he'd never imagined and he's forced to right things. And of course along the way he learns more about his dad, his brother and ultimately himself.

It's an enjoyable entertaining read (thank goodness after some of the somber selections from the previous months) that had me chuckling throughout. It's quirky and colorful. There's a little romance, a little mystery. I really liked it.

I sort of think I was meant to read his stuff years ago. He's the Neil that Tori Amos sometimes refers to in her songs, Emily has always spoken well of his work, and he wrote the screenplay for Stardust (which I really enjoyed). I hear that he is a dedicated blogger (I suppose all gainfully employed writers are these days, sort of makes sense, doesn't it?). Of course I found out all of this after I finished his book.

When I started the book last weekend, I read his dedication page and had a good feeling for the rest of the book:
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.
And then a teeny little postscript at the bottom of the page:
NOTE: the author would like to take this opportunity to tip his had respectfully to the ghosts of Zora Neale Hurston, Thorne Smith, P.G. Wodehouse, and Frederick "Tex" Avery.
The good feeling carried through as I finished it over the stifling hot weekend. Enjoying our new AC unit holed up in the bedroom. Stayed up late even for it. I'm going to have to get another of his novels to tide me over until the book club meets up again at the end of the month, if that's any indication of how much I enjoyed his writing.


"Sancho" said...

Gaiman is one of my absolute favorites! Good read, eh? His _The Graveyard Book_, out soonish, is one I am itching to read too.


jean said...


Thanks for the head's up. I will be sure to check out The Graveyard Book too!!

meteowrite said...

I had to search and search for this post. Part of my problem finding it was that in my head, you'd read "American Gods" by Gaimen, not Anansi Boys.

I'm now extra sad, because *I'VE* been reading (and reading and reading and reading) American Gods, and I thought you had too, so we could talk about it. Now I see that if I want to discuss with you, I need to read Anansi Boys, which, don't get me wrong, is on my list.

But here's the thing: I've tried and tried and tried to like Neil Gaimen. I think I do like him, as a person, he could come to one of our dinners. But I can't get into his books! And I've TRIED. I tell you. I've read Neverwhere. I've read Stardust. I've read Coraline. And I've only got about 100 pages to go of American Gods. A book, which, mind you has a world tree, and ravens named Thought and Memory, and a kid named Gwydion stocking grocery store shelves. And I'm still not into it. Sigh.

jean said...

Maybe I lead you astray. I think I must have mentioned somewhere that I was planning on reading American Gods. Which I did.

Verdict: meh.

I felt sort of bad about it because all the book club readers (and beyond) were raving about how that one's better (totally not true) and you really ought to read it before Anansi Boys (also not true), blah, blah, blah.

My thoughts: It's sort of all over the place. The protagonist is passive (things happen to him instead of him having a goal that he pursues). Which might not be a bad thing and certainly there are plenty of books I've read and really enjoyed with passive protagonists. And I sort of think that the writer's approach to tackling all the god stories out there was a bit much. That's why I like Anansi better. Just one story line.

And I wasn't buying the battle scene. Or the ending. Or the epilogue. It was okay. I wouldn't have recommended it.

Anansi certainly had its flaws, but I enjoyed the lightness of reading it. And the story was just engaging enough. So there's that.

So I shouldn't bother with Neverwhere or Coraline? I saw the movie version of Stardust and it was pleasant enough. I would have read the book to just to see how it's different. But not high on my priority list.