Off the Shelf
By Marcus Pan
I read this book in a matter
of days. Which is contrasted against the previous book Ive read,
Gnosis: The Secret of Solomons Temple Revealed, in a matter of
weeks while it was much shorter. A really good book can easily go by in the
time it takes to watch a movie based on it 2 or maybe 3 times, and you come out
the other end much more satisfied than watching it portrayed shabbily on the
Anansi Boys is a brilliant modern fairy tale, told
from the aspects of hard luck Charlie Nancy, aka Fat Charlie, as he discovers
secrets about himself and his family that were mostly just not noticed.
Its a fairy tale from our world and our time, rather than works like
Stardust which took place in a similar but different otherplace. The
brilliance of Anansi Boys is that it takes place here and now
hidden just between the lines and just under the surface of reality, much like
Neverwhere did. By using such subtle phrases as turned in a
direction that shouldnt have been there hell slide neat links
to reality by twisting it only just a little.
The flow of the story moves quickly and easily, making it a
fast read and a satisfying read. Neil uses common vernacular and doesnt
run off much at the mouth with his descriptions so things tend to move at a
fast smooth pace. The crux of the story is Fat Charlies engagement to
Rosie, and the need to therefore tell and/or invite his father to the
festivities much to his chagrin. Having been estranged from him for years, he
tries anyway to find out he had recently passed away. The engagement invitation
turns into a funeral invitation in the other direction.
After learning of his brother, unknown to him, its the
arrival of him, Spider, that sets in motion a discovery process through which
Fat Charlie discovers not only the roots of his strange and unusual family
heritage and bloodline, but much about his own psyche itself. This leads us, as
usual, to Neils strange made up places that have always been around, you
just need to make weird turns and notice things you didnt notice before
to find your way to them.
I really enjoyed Anansi Boys more than any book
Ive read in some time. Neils capabilities of taking everyday
occurrences and observations and twisting them, only just a little, to take us
to places that delve deeper into our world and our selves is striking fun.
Theres only a few that can do that Douglas Adams, Tom
Robbins and Neil Gaimans way of doing it is so unexpected that
youll stay up until 3am reading this book just like I did.
"Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman
2005 by Neil Gaiman
 Stardust was covered in the Off the
Shelf column in Legends #115.
Neverwhere was also reviewed in
 Adams had a number of his
books covered in Off the Shelf, the
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
series. These reviews were in #85,
#86, #87 &
#88 in order of the series.
Robbins Still Life With Woodpecker was
reviewed in Legends #91.
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