Monthly Archives: July 2014

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys

In the old stories, Anansi lives just like you do or I do, in his house. He is greedy, of course, and lustful, and tricky, and full of lies. And he is good-hearted, and lucky, and sometimes even honest. Sometimes he is good, sometimes he is bad. He is never evil. Mostly, you are on Anansi’s side. This is because Anansi owns all the stories. Mawu gave him the stories, back in the dawn days, took them from Tiger and gave them to Anansi, and he spins the web of them so beautifully. In the stories, Anansi is a spider, but he is also a man. It is not hard to keep two things in your head at the same time. Even a child could do it.~Anansi Boys

 

“Fat” Charlie Nancy didn’t know he had a brother. He also didn’t know that his father was the god Anansi. Mostly, he just thought his father was embarrassing. Fat Charlie has done his best to lead a normal life in London, England (where he and his mother relocated to from Florida). He has a fiancée, Rosie, who loves to “do good” and has a deplorable mother. He works at the Graham Coates Agency—where his job is mostly to assure wealthy clients that their money should be arriving soon. Besides crippling stage fright and the fact that everyone calls him Fat Charlie even though he introduces himself as Charlie (he’s not fat), his life is pretty normal. Until he must return to Florida for his father’s funeral, only to discover that he is not the only son of Anansi. He has a brother—Spider—who has the power to wreak havoc on Fat Charlie’s mostly normal existence.

 

Anansi Boys follows with a similar concept about gods living and breathing in our contemporary world as in American Gods. However, Anansi Boys is a more humorous tale—about family, love, and self-discovery. It is definitely more light-hearted—fitting for an Anansi story. I enjoyed the shift in character perspectives, focused on Fat Charlie, Spider, Rosie, and three seemingly minor characters in the beginning who become very important later on: Graham Coates, his client Maeve Livingstone, and police officer Daisy. While I liked all of the characters and laughed aloud in some parts, I didn’t have as much of a deep emotional connection to the characters or as strong of a reaction to the story as I normally do with Neil Gaiman’s books (especially American Gods and Stardust). However, I enjoyed being caught in Anansi’s (and Gaiman’s) web for a short time and would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys Neil Gaiman or contemporary fantasy. It’s an excellent summer book.

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Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks

ireland-fridge

“The nature of hitching, especially when encumbered by a kitchen appliance, is such that you are reliant on others. We mayn’t expect it, but there may come a time in all of our lives when we have to hitch, either physically or figuratively. It doesn’t matter how important, wealthy or talented you are, if your car breaks down somewhere and you are forced to stick out your thumb and hitch, then your fallibility and the fact that you are no better than the next person will become abundantly clear to you. You need someone else’s kindness to take you to safety.” ~p.182

 

Tony Hawks receives a drunken bet that he cannot hitchhike around the circumference of Ireland with a fridge within a month. Later, a sober Tony decides to take the bet. What ensues is a hilarious journey, which includes but is not limited to: resident drunks playing spoons, a fridge party, a bachelor festival, and a fridge blessing from a mother superior.

This non-fiction book about Tony Hawks’ journey around the circumference of Ireland with a fridge was a perfect, fun, summer read. Hawks’ writing was engaging and in places I laughed out loud. I’ve been wanting to visit Ireland for a long time (not with a fridge, just with a suitcase) and through Hawks’ memoir I felt I gained an understanding of the culture and spirit of the country. With a fridge in tow, the author seems to have gotten into a lot of shenanigans–and ALL of them are hilariously rendered. Round Ireland with a Fridge is a book that will make you want to go on an adventure–and made me think about how important it is to have adventures, to step outside of the box (or small, box-like, kitchen appliance) and do something slightly silly, dangerous, or fun. How else do we learn anything in life?

I will be picking up another book by the same author, Playing the Moldovans at Tennis, not because I know anything about tennis, but because I enjoyed Hawks’ writing so much.

Also, I learned about this book from this Vlogbrothers video: 18 Great Books You Probably Haven’t Read.

 

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