Neil Gaiman is best known, according to the Daily Telegraph, for the Sandman series of graphic novels. This is my first Neil Gaiman book. It is an adult version of a Terry Pratchett book but not so funny.
When 'Fat' Charlie Nancy's dad dies he discovers that he is the son of the trickster God Anansi, the Spider. Then Charlie's brother Spider turns up. Within a day Spider has stolen Charlie's fiancee and enmeshed Charlie in a fraud. But Charlie's attempts to get rid of Spider have even worse consequences.
There are some delightfully funny parts of this book: the characters, especially the old ladies, are convincing and the situations are those classic comedy situations which are totally and utterly ridiculous but are less than a feather's breadth away from everyday embarrassing reality. Gaiman can write some classic prose (and some classically cliched prose) and there was one moment when I actually laughed aloud: Grahame was "ready, as the poet said, to risk it on a turn of pitch and toss. He had risked and he had won. He was the pitcher. He was the tosser." (Chapter 8).
I enjoyed the reality bits but I thought the god bits were a bit unsubtle. I would have preferred the story to have been entirely real except for the hint of mystery when the gods are acting.
Gaiman writes fluently. Although he audaciously mixes myth and reality he is NOT one of "fiction's most audaciously original talents" as it says on the back. In many ways the book is deeply unoriginal. The character of the evil but slimy theatrical agent is standard, as is the ice mother-in-law; most of the plot elements are predictable (night out leads to hangover leads to problems at work); there are homages to Reggie Perrin amongst other works; the demi-God Spider discovers that he needs real love from a real woman rather than his cool magical life; the story theme sounds like a novelist justifying himself. All in all this was a fairly standard romp and Pratchett is wittier.
July 2009, 451 pages
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57