The day before yesterday, I finished reading Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys. Meanwhile writing this, I checked at Wikipedia that this one is currently his latest novel. It was the Sandman series that first introduced me to Gaiman, and then my interest geometrically increased via the spin-off Death series, various other comics & graphical novels, the Neverwhere TV series, his relation with Tori Amos, and the American Gods. He is indeed a wordslinger as Dark Tower’s Roland would express and definitely has his trademark stamped upon wherever he has contributed to such as in that episode of the Babylon 5 (was it titled the Day of Dead?, not sure but something like that) or the Matrix story Goliath he had written.
American Gods included some firm and original ideas but lacked the empathy it was supposed to arouse for the reader. It was like some non-fictional pulp in which you witness the preplanned course of actions. Also, it happened to be pretty boring when tried to lecture the reader about something that the reader had already figured out (In Turkish we have a saying that can be crudely translated as “Fingering the blind eye”). But again, as I mentioned earlier, it was exceptionally original and I must admit that calling the roadkills as a sacrifice to a traffic god was definitely a revolutionary innovation – a new breath of fresh air to all said and done before.
A week or so ago, my friend Barış passed me his copy of the Anansi Boys. I’ve got to say, I began reading out of boredom than curiosity but the book succeeded in binding me along with its components. First of all, there was the successfull merging of the reader with the protagonist and as a bonus humour was thrown in, too.
The characters are like they came out from a Douglas Adams novel – they are pathetic, clumsy most of the time, shy but clever enough to be embarrassed by themselves. The plot’s pace is well managed. You’ve got the introduction with fragments with past to get an opinion about who’s who, then comes the big bang and events roll on. The ending is also well knitted so to say. The 4 old ladies by the way, reminded of me the Erinyes/Moirae/Graeae ladies of the Sandman (obviously their Moirae interpretation than the other two and I guess this was what Gaiman had intended to be at the first place.
The prose is enriched by Gaiman’s classic-but-thankfully-not-yet-cliché exaggerative and poetic style as can be observed in the following two sentences:
(p.363 of HarperTorch International Printing, 2006)
Daisy looked up at him with the kind of expression that Jesus might have given someone who had just explained that he was probably allergic to bread and fishes, so could He possibly do him a quick chicken salad: there was pity in that expression, along with infinite compassion.
(p.366 of HarperTorch International Printing, 2006)
At the end of the beach they took a left turn that was left to absolutely everything, and the mountains at the beginning of the world towered above them and the cliffs fell away below.
The best thing about the book was that, you always kind of feel that everything’s gonna be all right. The characters are almost always cool about the really bad things happening to them and this makes you relaxed for their upcoming fates: you don’t pitifully worry for the folks who don’t worry for themselves in a pitiful way (by the way, this is the one of the main reasons for me favoring the works of some northern european directors, most notably: Aki Kaurismäki).
On Wikipedia, under the subject of Neil Gaiman, there was a section entitled as “Neil Gaiman and Shakespeare” so, I’d like to end this blog with one of my favourite mottos as well as the title of Shakespeare’s play:
“All’s Well That Ends Well”
P.S.: I couldn’t refrain myself from telling that: Although it was a nice homage to -I guess- Tori Amos by the sweet cameo of the mermaid at the end, one thing for sure Mr. Gaiman: It’s not the mermaids but the sirens who can sing above the waves! 😉