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19 July 2009 @ 09:38 pm
Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman

Don’t get me wrong; I think Gaiman is a superb short story writer. I just doubt his commitment to novel motion.

This was SO BAD. SO BAD.

I don't think I can even articulate this right, so I'm just going to make a list.

1. Rosie. 'Doing good' impulses. How is this relevant?
2. Daisy. 'Voice in head shouting evildoers abroad.' How is this relevant?
3. Who ARE Mrs Dunwiddy and Co and what do they have against Anansi's son/Anansi?
4. Maybe they are all supposed to be 'gods' or something, but I wish he'd come out and said that instead of saddling them with ridic character traits for no good reason.
5. Mrs Dunwiddy and Co = Pterry's Witches, only less interesting/well-written/characterised/funny. OIC WHAT YOU DID THAR.
6. Fat Charlie becoming Spider and vice versa.
7. Both such horrible characters I could root for neither.
8. Constant descriptions of people as 'a white woman.' Did he just do this to point up the fact that there are no black people IN the book? Faily.
9. Mermaid at the end. How is this relevant?
10. Charlie turns into Patrick Stump at the end. Kind of cool, but not really. PStump much cooler than anything Gaiman could produce.

He was older than they were, much, much older, but he was charm itself, like something from a bygone age when fine manners and courtly gestures were worth something. The barman relaxed. With someone like this in the bar, it was going to be a good evening.

Even leaving aside the fact that the words 'karaoke' and 'good evening' are mutually incompatible - WHAT? An geriatic dude with the sartorial props of a colour-blind marmot sleazes up to a couple of blondes in a bar and that is a BULLETPROOF GUARANTEE that the night is going to go swimmingly? I can only repeat: WHAT?

None of these, individually, as far as Fat Charlie was concerned, was the worst thing about Fat Charlie's father

Oh, coherency and straightforward sentence structure, how I miss thee.

noise, of the kind that tends not to be heard in hospitals, where signs in the stairwell request quiet and the icy glares of the nursing staff enforce it.

LOL HAS NEVER BEEN IN A HOSPITAL. OR MET A NURSE. Please, come join me on an eight am ward round with three female doctors in heels and a shouty nurse and a male consultant who thinks everyone in the room should hear what he's saying.

He was wearing a black and scarlet leather jacket, and black leather leggings

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. Spider is supposed to be ultra-cool, not a really fey male ballerina. In fact, all the really fey male ballerinas in the world put together and squared would have more cool than Spider. I wish there was pictorial evidence of Gaiman's inspiration here so I could send it into LATFH.

"Wine first," Spider announced. "Rivers and lakes and vast oceans of wine."

This line is nice, because it neatly encapsulates exactly why I dislike Gaiman's writing. It's so close to being good - close enough to fool the casual observer - but he always manages to ruin it. See here, the 'vast oceans' rider. THAT DOES NOT NEED TO BE THERE. IT DISRUPTS THE ENTIRE BALANCE OF THE SENTENCE. THE SENTENCE IS NOW TOP HEAVY AND WILL FALL OVER. IT IS NOW STUPID.

There is a theory that, in the whole world, there are only five hundred real people

Where have I heard this before? OH YEAH. In a Pterry book. I'm sure he didn't come up with the theory, but seriously Gaiman, don't steal things when we can all SEE YOU STEALING THEM.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2009:
He Knew He Was Right, Anthony Trollope |The Bostonians, Henry James | For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway | For Esme - with Love and Squalor, JD Salinger | The Outsider, Albert Camus | The Princess Diaries: Ten out of Ten, Meg Cabot | The Vicar of Bullhampton, Anthony Trollope | Molesworth, Geoffrey Willans | Villette, Charlotte Bronte | The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James | The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler | Cecilia, Fanny Burney | The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger | The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark | Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut | Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann | Siddhartha, Herman Hesse | The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga | The Duke and I, Julia Quinn | Brave New World, Aldous Huxley | North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell | Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee | Catch-22, Joseph Heller | Bright Shiny Morning, James Frey | Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck | The Demon's Lexicon, Sarah Rees Brennan | The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton | jPod, Douglas Coupland | 'Are these my basoomas I see before me?', Louise Rennison | Faro's Daughter, Georgette Heyer
Current Music: the crane wife 3 // the decemberists
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: maskscoradh on July 19th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
... No? I honestly didn't find it obvious. Granted, my first thought of Florida is old peoples' homes. I'll take it that what you say is true, so why didn't he say 'a black woman' then when he meant a black woman? Why did only qualify it for white people?

I've read American Gods. It's a lot better than this, although that wouldn't be hard - it had menace and mystery and reasonably interesting characters. I haven't read all Gaiman's work, but I'd say it's easily the best book he's written.
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Twins playing keyboardscoradh on July 19th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
But Fat Charlie also did a good bit of his growing up in England. I'm not saying there's not racial segregation there - and I'm not even sure why any of it needed to be set in England, really, especially the Graham Coates part; he'd make far far less in England than America.

Yeah, I guess I suffer from the 'assume everyone looks like me' syndrome? It's a bit worrying, actually.
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: disco ballscoradh on July 20th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
Yeah, I figured that. American Gods is a lot better because it's clear that Gaiman has a much stronger connection to America than England - hell, doesn't he live there? He would have to give up his English citizenship for that, I'm pretty sure.

I suppose ... not to stir up a racefaileseque debate, especially as I didn't follow it ... it didn't come off to me as representing the African diaspora. Just like every Irish person abroad doesn't spend their time drunk, singing 'I'll take you home again Kathleen' and reminiscing over the good old wet days of the sod, I'm sure African (Americans) abroad don't think about their historical culture the whole time. But to firmly root the Nancys as such, it would have been good to see someone doing something like that. Because like I say, I pictured most of the people in it as equivalent to the old dudes in In Her Shoes. D:
question marks are out of fashionflimsy on July 19th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)

I love Neil Gaiman and everything he does - I think he's a superb story writer, quirky and funny and entertaining.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: owlsscoradh on July 19th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
Your mileage may vary, obviously! I find he tries too hard with his humour, when I consider it needs a veeeeeeery light tough - like ballerinas making it look easy. But I'm very hard to please with books. Follow any tag on my book 'reviews' if you don't believe me!
ravurianravurian on July 19th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
Ahem. Most of the characters are black, or at the very least non-white, so when white people show up, their whiteness gets commented on. Gaiman also (quite effectively IMO) used non-standard sentence structure, syntax and rhythms to indicate non-standard, non-white ways of using English... Also, the title uses the name of an African trickster spirit/god. Um. Faily. LOL.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: collapsingnight: pier jumpingscoradh on July 20th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)
I knew Anansi was African, or at least Caribbean. As I pointed out to schemingreader above, I honestly didn't pick up on the rest. As for his syntax, it read to me like the same old over-description, over-narration, over-telling of jokes. Would it have killed him to say 'this is a black person, this is a white person'? If he needed to describe them at all.

- not a Gaiman apologist
R.J.'s Talkback Plebe Radioluciusmalfoy on July 20th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)
It's so awesome to read someone else dissing that crap bungler Gaiman that I want to reach through my computer and HUG YOU.

The man:

Can't write.
Can't plot.
Can't make characters.
Books filled with random shite.
For the sake of random.

Can only manage coherency IF HE WORKS WITH SOMEONE ELSE. Who clearly are responsible for the writing part.
R.J.'s Talkback Plebe Radioluciusmalfoy on July 20th, 2009 04:05 am (UTC)
GOD HE IS SO UNBELIEVABLY BAD I feel like I have to post again just to repeat it.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: tattooscoradh on July 20th, 2009 11:20 am (UTC)
Can only manage coherency IF HE WORKS WITH SOMEONE ELSE. Who clearly are responsible for the writing part.

I'm pretty sure his main contribution to GO was the creepy demon who ate people through phone lines. He can do creepy! I don't know why he just doesn't set himself up as the Stephen King of short stories. SERIOUSLY, DUDE, PLAY TO YOUR (LIMITED) STRENGTHS.
Zebruizebrui on July 20th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
Oh, good, someone who isn't worshiping Gaiman.
I actually haven't read anything by him yet, but have been pestered to give him a go from different people for the last few months.
I did listen to an audio of the first chapter of his Graveyard Book and I can't say love at first page with his writing happened. From what I grasped from that one measly chapter is that his strength seems to be ideas, more than writing.
To get to the point, which of his books would you recommend his first time reader? Or which is his best?
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: anumberonme lighted pathscoradh on July 20th, 2009 11:15 am (UTC)
My opinion of him is deeply in the minority, just so you know. ;D

I would definitely say start with American Gods, then read Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things (his short story anthologies). He really is good at short stories, I swear. American Gods contains one of my favourite scenes of any book ever - come back to me when you've read it and see if you guess. ;D

From what I grasped from that one measly chapter is that his strength seems to be ideas, more than writing.

This is SO true. Which is why he should stick to short stories, where he can get away with it.
Zebruizebrui on July 20th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
Will do :)

I'll pick them up at bookstore today. Thank you!