Anansi Boys fits best in the fantasy genre, and tells the story of Fat Charlie Nancy. His father was a God, Anansi (Spider). In Caribbean and West African lore, Spider is the trickster similar to Coyote in Native American cultures. He annoys and bests the other Gods by making them look stupid. His powers come from his wit, music and humor. This story contains lots of humor.
Gaiman created outstanding colorful characters such as Fat Charlie’s father. Mr. Nancy is a flamboyant gentleman from the Islands. He wears a green fedora and yellow gloves. He particularly likes to sing and dance, but not work. Henry’s narration brings the characters to life.
Fat Charlie has gone through life with the foregone conclusion that if anything bad can happen, it will. Because of this, he carries a conservative outlook on life, and hates to draw attention to himself. The slightest disturbance brings on a bout of embarrassment, and his father proved superior at causing embarrassment. Given all that, he is fairly happy with a good job and planning his wedding. Then his father dies.
Even in death, Mr. Nancy embarrassed Fat Charlie. He died while singing Karaoke. He fell off the stage face first into the large bosom of a blond from the Midwest on vacation in South Florida. While my description sounds mild, Gaiman’s rendition will have you crying tears of laughter.
Gaiman’s humor is not the humorous fantasy puns of Robert Asprin’s Myth adventure series or Piers Anthony’s Xanth books. Gaiman pokes fun at society, greed and people’s foibles. I’m sure my fellow commuters thought I was deranged as I set in traffic laughing.
At his father’s funeral Fat Charlie learns about his brother, Spider, a demigod. Fat Charlie doesn’t really believe in this God stuff nor does he believe he has a brother. A short while later Spider, trickster, enters Charlie’s life, and the troubles begin. Spider skates through life, and doesn’t think or care about others. Spider’s only concern is being happy. He doesn’t even care about his brother.
Anansi Boys contains romance, ghosts, murder, mayhem and West African folklore. Neil Gaiman packs his story with lots of humorous situations, and enjoyable characters. Don’t miss this one.