The Bull of Gamekeepers Tales reviews Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys
“Fat” Charlie Nancy, is timid…he’s nothing to be scorned, he’s just like us…sticks to his job, is in a relationship that’s doomed to end in marriage (for all the wrong reasons) and doesn’t like the stick out much. The only thing that’s even slightly unusual is that he’s actually American, though he isn’t proud of the fact, more annoyed that when he moved to England with his Mother, the kids all ridiculed him for his accent and by the time he could talk like a native, all the kids wanted to sound like an American.
One night whilst failing to avoid Wedding Planning, he is forced into facing up to contacting his estranged Father. With his mother now dead, it just wouldn’t do to have no relations on his side of the church. “Fat” Charlie has no good memories of his “dad”, in fact he only has memories of the pranks his father played on him and just how embarrassing he is.
He rings an old family friend back in Florida, a Mrs Higgler…at the same moment she is trying to contact him…You see his father has died of a heart attack while singing Karaoke in a beach side bar, no one thought he had died, as he had collapsed onto a table of young female tourists and pulled one of their tops down…he was known for this, and no one batted an eye at the time.
Charlie flies to the states to attend the funeral and at this moment, his life starts unravelling….It turns out his dad was the Old Spider God Anansi and that he is the heir to his power. ‘What rubbish’ Charlie demands, if he was a god then he’d have powers! ‘Oh no,’ he’s informed…’Your brother got them’….Brother? Charlie knew nothing of a brother, or a God for that matter.
Spider (the brother) is every “Fat” Charlie isn’t….he’s brash, confident, smooth, cool, loved by everyone…oh and a god. He also likes to take things easy and is in fact the epitome of the hedonist….Until Spider decides to not only take over Charlie’s life, but to become him. This wouldn’t have annoyed Charlie so much if he hadn’t been so much better at it than Charlie.
Within a day, New “Charlie” has had a pay rise, a string of new friends and, Rosie, (Charlie’s fiancée, who was insisting on no sex before marriage) has bedded Spider.
Question is….Just how do you get rid of a God that’s taken over your life?
To stop a god, you need to broker deals with Gods, and he delves into the Spirit world of Totem Animals with just a few words of warning that “spirits” can be tricky things.
“The creature laughed, scornfully.’I,’ it said, ‘am frightened of nothing.’
‘Nothing,’ it said.
Charlie said,’Are you extremely frightened of nothing?’
‘Absolutely terrified of it,’ admitted the Dragon
‘You know,’ said Charlie, ‘I have nothing in my pockets. Would you like to see it?'”
Deep down, this is a story about the importance of family, about taking things for granted and as a warning to pay attention to what you have, as you may lose it, or worse still not realize what “wonder” it was in the first place.
“Charlie has a son. His name is Marcus: he is four and a half, and possesses that deep gravity and seriousness that only small children and mountain gorillas have ever been able to master.”
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