Today I finally finished Anansi Boyss.
I have a weird relationship with Neil Gaiman books. Probably it’s because I have a weird relationship with the entity that is Neil himself (spot the Twitter reference) – he was an author I knew of, and I’d watched and enjoyed Stardust (but hadn’t read the book) when suddenly he was a focal point in the Amanda Palmer world that I was somewhat involving myself in.
(By somewhat, I mean going to shows in Florida whilst living in Montreal, and the like. You know, the usual.)
I had vowed that I would read at least one of his books before meeting him, but alas, it did not happen in time. I’d started Neverwhere, and read a few stories from Smoke and Mirrors, but nothing more, when I met him at a show/reading he and Amanda were doing at the Housingworks Bookstore in NYC. I shook his hand, he introduced himself and knew who I was (I was at that time part of an apartment dwelling duo known to Teh AFP Internetz as ‘The Barely Legal Lesbians’, partly identifiable by our unnaturally coloured hair) and he signed a setlist for me after the show. Badass? I think so.
But I still didn’t get around to properly reading any of his books until I returned from the Great North American Adventure of 2009 and found myself back in Kiwiland. I read Stardust soon after, and thoroughly enjoyed it. And then I eventually got around to reading The Graveyard Book, a topic which has already been broached here. I love the way he writes, the way he creates characters and places and manipulates words. He would certainly rank highly among my ‘favourite’ authors. But every time I read something he’s written – Stardust excluded – I take a bizarrely long time to power through the pages. In one respect, this means I’m absorbing the story more, I suppose, but it’s also frustrating as I tend to be more of the zap-pow variety when it comes to reading speed. American Gods was glorious, but again, took me quite some time to get into, and even then, the actual time taken to complete the novel, even once I was immersed in it, was pretty damn long.
Anansi Boys has been the bane of my life for the last couple of months. I started it. And then forgot I was reading it. And then had to start again, got about 100 pages in, and then stopped again. I would try to hack back at it, but would wind up only reading a few pages at a time. I suppose it didn’t help that I was also in the middle of exams/December work whilst trying to do this, but still. Then, yesterday, I decided to put in a proper effort, choose only appropriate reading-supportive (rather than distracting) music to play, and get into it. And I finally finished it.
It was definitely a book that kept building and building and building as it went along, with a pleasantly short dénouement, rather than trying to drag it all out after the main action had occurred. I spent the first half of the book enjoying it, but being disappointed when comparing it back to American Gods, but by the time I finished it, I was much more satisfied with it. I still preferred American Gods, certainly, but Anansi Boys proved itself a thoroughly excellent read, in the end. I think the more constant presence of creeping supernatural themes in American Gods kept me a little more engaged, but that was really the whole point of Fat Charlie Nancy, I suppose, his supposed distance from the godlike.
And now that I’ve finished this spiel, I must go be A Helpful Daughter and clean and tidy things, as my mother’s cousin from the US is coming to visit. Maybe some of my Amurkin friends should stow away in her luggage? DC’s not that far from NYC, after all…
(And appropriately, her name is Nancy.)