God, I love this book. A spiritual sequel to American Gods (similar modern-day mythology vibe, less conspiracy theory), Anansi Boys focuses on the spider trickster, Anansi, and his poor son, Fat Charlie.
“That’s an Anansi story. ’Course, all stories are Anansi stories. Even this one.”
Anansi is a god — a spider god, a trickster god. Anansi was also know as Mr. Nancy, and he was Fat Charlie’s mostly-absent, incredibly embarrassing father. When Mr. Nancy passes away, Fat Charlie finds out from an old family friend that his father was actually a god — and that Fat Charlie has a brother named Spider that he never knew about. Fat Charlies makes the mistake of calling for his brother, who promptly shows up and destroys his life. Then Fat Charlie must put it back together, with the help of his fiancee (Rosie — who might actually love Spider), a policewoman named Daisy and four little old ladies in Florida who know a bit of magic.
This book is hilarious (see note re: Rosie’s mother below) and smart and the Anansi stories that Gaiman sprinkles it with are fascinating. Spider causes a lot of trouble for Fat Charlie, but the other villain in this book is Fat Charlie’s boss, Graham Coates, and man, is he a character. Really, I can’t say enough of the wonder of this book. Just read it (I think I have about 4 or 5 times now). Or listen to the audiobook, which I did this go-round — the narrator is incredible.
The descriptions of Rosie’s mum, though, are definitely my favorite part of the book. For instance, “Fat Charlie wondered what Rosie’s mother would usually hear in a church. Probably just cries of “Back! Foul best of Hell!” followed by gasps of “Is it alive?” and a nervous inquiry as to whether anybody had remembered to bring the stakes and hammers.”
I love you, Neil Gaiman.