"People respond to the stories. They tell them themselves. The stories spread, and as people tell them, the stories change the tellers. Because now the folk who never had any thought in their head but how to run from lions and keep far enough away from rivers that the crocodiles don't get an easy meal, now they're starting to dream about a whole new place to live. The world may be the same, but the wallpaper's changed. Yes? People still have the same story, the one where they get born and they do stuff and they die, but now the story means something different to what it meant before."
The trickster god Anansi's explanation of stories and the way they instill dreams in people is the perfect distillation of Anansi Boys, a kind-of fantasy, a little bit ghost story, quite a bit funny, magical realist novel by Neil Gaiman. In it, Fat Charlie Nancy learns some unbelievable things after the death of his embarrassing, over-the-top father: Mr. Nancy was actually a god and he had two sons.
Soon after he learns this, Fat Charlie's life spins into chaos: his brother, Spider, shows up and impersonates Fat Charlie, causing trouble with his white-collar criminal boss and stealing Rosie, Fat Charlie's fiance. In trying to sort out his life, Fat Charlie begins an adventure that ends ultimately with a new realization of his family, himself and his abilities.
I'm pretty late to the game so far as Neil Gaiman love is concerned - a good college buddy of mine sent me a copy of Coraline for my birthday last year. I adored the book and it's dark, creepy world and couldn't wait to read more from the author who created that world.
And he doesn't disappoint. Mr. Gaiman's writings are imaginative and funny and, most importantly, numerous. He created and wrote the Sandman graphic novel series and has written quite a few young adult and children's books; Anansi Boys is a spin-off of sorts from his first adult novel, American Gods. And, he keeps a very charming blog - maybe my favorite famous-person blog, next to Stephen Fry.
I'm reading The Graveyard Book next and can't wait to dive into another of Neil Gaiman's fantastic worlds!