Friday, May 13, 2016

Gaiman Fix

Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
I have something akin to reverence for Gaiman's writing style.  That said, I wouldn't say I enjoy reading his books alone for weeks on end, back to back, without some other texts in between.  His style is something I relish in measured doses, as it is peppered with long, tangential anecdotes (and anecdotes within anecdotes) and there's always a degree of darkness there -- neither of which I seek long-term immersion in. Anansi Boys comes together beautifully, satisfies a craving for some Gaiman well, and;
  • It starts pretty slow, but picks up about a quarter of the way in.  The pacing is affected for me by the anecdotes.  They are pretty delicious usually, but some of the parenthetical characterisations are on the longer side.
  • Close to midway, I thought: "This is okay, I hope it comes together in a supreme way that makes it better than okay."  Guys, it does.  A very supreme way.  I don't want to diminish its awesome, but I'll say: I kept thinking of ensemble movie climaxes as the the convoluted, delightful fable's coming together unfolded.
  • It has Gaiman's usual short wit-bits, as well as some very, very funny content.  There are so many quotable paragraphs!
  • Initially, the peripheral characters were my favourite.  I could have read the book just for glimpses of them (Rosie's mother!  Mrs Dunwiddy!  OH MY!).  But as time went on, other characters really grew on me.  Character change and my related change in response to them -- one of the things that most impressed me about this book.
  • It's told from multiple perspectives.  Including a villain's.  That always makes me squirm.  Because multiple characters lack a moral compass there are some narrative elements to match.  Specifically, some irritating injustice and brief shocking (and relatively graphic) violence.  Sometimes the narrative voice seems to blur between retellings so the elderly women read as one voice...but this was only truly muddy for one section.
  • A highlight: Gaiman writes an inner song for a character, and we gain access to the inner song.  Instead of it seeming trivial / weird / distracting, it matches the anecdotal style and paints such an amusing, strong picture of character.  I loved that.
Anansi Boys reads like an urban fantasy read-alike for The Hitchhiker's Guide...only better, as it achieves tension and momentum I find the latter lacking in. 

Thank you for recommending I get onto this one, Ryan.

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