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Monday, July 6, 2009

Anansi Boys

Anansi Boys

By Neil Gaiman

(3.5/5 stars)

"Anansi Boys" is not so much a sequel to Gaiman's "American Gods" as it is more of a spin-off, a literary "Rhoda" or "Facts of Life." In "American Gods" there was a trickster god called Anansi or Mr. Nancy, who was a spider but also manifested himself as a swinging black man in the mold of Cab Calloway.

When "Anansi Boys" begins, Mr. Nancy is dead. He leaves behind two sons. One is "Fat" Charlie Nancy, who is not fat but the childhood nickname given to him by his father has stuck no matter what he does. Though he grew up in Florida, Charlie moved to London as an adult, where he works for a sleazy talent agent and is engaged to a charity worker named Rosie. By any standard Charlie's life is pretty boring.

That is until he meets his brother. Charlie's brother goes by the name Spider. He has no job, spending his time flitting from place to place, having a grand old time. He has no steady girlfriends either. What Spider does have is magic. This is what he inherited from his father and that he uses to make himself the life of the party.

Charlie makes the mistake of inviting Spider to stay with him and before long Charlie's life is turned upside down. And like house guests everywhere, Spider soon overstays his welcome.

If the plot sounds like a sitcom, it's because for the most part it is. It's like "Two and a Half Men" without the kid. And with a bit of island magic. That makes the book more lighthearted and fun than "American Gods" but it also doesn't have quite the same impact. Though a fun and engaging read, it's likely to stick with you as long as it takes to flip the channel.

Still, I'd recommend it, especially if you're a fan of books like Terry Pratchett's Discworld series that similarly combine humor and fantasy.

That is all.

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