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ANANSI BOYS by Neil Gaiman


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Science Fiction Book Club

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Neil Gaiman is the kind of writer who's always doing something new and exciting and yet—this is the important part - doing it effortlessly, as if he's spent decades writing exactly that sort of thing. Comics? (Sandman) Television? (Neverwhere) Movies? (Mirrormask) Journalism? (Don't Panic!) Novels for adults? (American Gods) Novels for young readers? (Coraline) Books for even younger readers? (The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish) You name it—he's probably written it, with the control and energy of a master.

He's written comedy before, of course (the wonderful novel Good Omens, with Terry Pratchett), but he's never done a solo funny book. Until now.

Charlie Nancy is the kind of guy things happen to, who gets poked in the nose by life a little too often. Unfairly nicknamed “Fat Charlie” as a child by his larger-than-life father, he moved far away and drifted into a comfortably boring life as a bookkeeper for a theatrical agent in London. That all changes with his father's funeral.

He learns that he has a brother, Spider, and that his father was actually the African trickster god Anansi. (It can happen in the best of families.) Charlie invites Spider to visit, and soon regrets it: his brother is just like their father—loud, outgoing, outrageous and focused entirely on his own amusement. Spider quickly takes over a room in Charlie's apartment (one much, much larger than it has any right to be), gets Charlie in very deep trouble with his boss, and, worst of all, tries to steal his girlfriend.

Charlie Nancy has had enough. It's time for him to finally stand up for himself. Time for him to stop being a doormat. Time to finally become his father's son. If only he can figure out how to do any of that....

—Andrew Wheeler, Senior Editor
(306 pp.) 2005.

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