Who: SpiderFrom: Anansi Boys
Written by: Neil Gaiman
Date of Publication: Jan 2008.
Why: He’s the trickster brother to the book’s everyman hero, Fat Charlie. He’s the cool, funny, magical brother you’d always wish you had. Kinda. [Full disclosure: I’m really a card-carrying member of “Team Fat Charlie. ” But, as he’s the lead character, I couldn’t really pick him for this profile could I? So I picked Spider, who is so like Fat Charlie! –Except he’s completely different.]
Here’s what happened when the brothers met:
“Fat Charlie blew his nose. “I never knew I had a brother,” he said.
“I did,” said Spider. “I always meant to look you up, but I got distracted. You know how it is.”
“Things came up.”
“What kind of things?”
“Things. They came up. That’s what things do. They come up. I can’t be expected to keep track of them all.”
“Well, give me a f’rinstance.”
Spider drank more wine. “Okay. The last time I decided that you and I should meet, I, well, I spent days planning it. Wanted it to go perfectly. I had to choose my wardrobe. Then I had to decide what I’d say to you when we met. I knew that the meeting of two brothers, well, it’s the subject of epics, isn’t it? I decided that the only way to treat it with the appropriate gravity would be to do it in verse. But what kind of verse? Am I going to rap it? Declaim it? I mean, I’m not going to greet you with a limerick. So. It had to be something dark, something powerful, rhythmic, epic. And then I had it. The perfect line: Blood calls to blood like sirens in the night. It says so much. I knew I’d be able to get everything in there – people dying in alleys, sweat and nightmares, the power of free spirits uncrushable. Everything was going to be there. And then I had to come up with a second line, and the whole thing completely fell apart. The best I could come up with was Tum-tumpty-tumpty-tumpty got a fright.”
Fat Charlie blinked. “Who exactly is Tum-tumpty-tumpty-tumpty?”
“It’s not anybody. It’s just there to show you where the words ought to be. But I never really got any futher on it than that, and I couldn’t turn up with just a first line, some tumpties and three words of an epic poem, could I? That would have been disrespecting you.”
“Exactly. So I went to Hawaii for the week instead. Like I said, something came up.” [Anansi Boys]
Pros: He’s pretty much a god. He can make people do things with the power of suggestion. He talks to spiders. After living most of his life in hedonistic selfishness (he is a god after all) he learns to grow and love.
Cons: When we first meet him he is selfish and destructive. He’s a liar and a cheat. And he never thinks about the real world consequences since he never sticks around long enough to deal with them. He steal’s Fat Charlie’s fiance, Rosie, and takes over his flat. He pretty much ruins Fat Charlie’s life.
If you haven’t guessed… I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan. So I was thrilled when one of my besties, Lynn Reynolds gifted me Anansi Boys as an Audible Book for Christmas. I’d only really done a handful of books on tape before, most notably the Harry Potter books (I’ve also done various books through my Kindle’s text-too-speech while gardening or painting. But those sound like the “Garman car man” guy so they don’t count.) Any way, I was really pleased with this Audible Book both for Lenny Henry’s narration and, especially, for the wonderful writing. I think you should give it a try…
Here’s the Kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/Anansi-Boys-ebook/dp/B000FCKENQ/ref=tmm_kin_title_0
And here’s the link for the Audio version – http://www.amazon.com/Anansi-Boys-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0060823844/ref=tmm_abk_title_0Click here to read the ritaLOVEStoWRITE Neil Gaiman bioBLOG
- “Make Good Art” – Commencement Speech by Neil Gaiman (bretthigham.com)
- Why You Should Read Neil Gaiman (sometimesawriter.wordpress.com)
- Neil Gaiman Sets Loose His American Gods for HBO (dreadcentral.com)