Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman (Audio)

Well over a year ago, I read Carrie's review of Anansi Boys, in which she rates the audio 5 out of 5 stars.  I quickly ordered it from the library, loaded it on the iPod...and there is sat until now.  I am so quickly inspired then uninspired, I remind myself of a fidgety four year old child.

But I have a time-tested theory.  The longer a book or audio sits and ages in my presence, the better it is.  This is the way karma works.  I was more than pleasantly surprised at what had been waiting for me in this little gem.

Synopsis:  Fat Charlie Nancy (who hasn't been fat since he was a child) is living peacefully in London, working as a bookkeeper for a lecherous toad, and engaged to the lovely Rosie.  In planning his wedding, he begrudgingly tries to track down his no-good, drifter father who abandoned his family years ago, and finds that he has just died.  He flies to Florida to attend the funeral, and is informed by three old women who were his father's friends (whom he refers to as "the post-menopausal mafia") that his father was in fact the trickster spider God, Anansi.  He also learns that he has a brother who he never knew.  Per the advice of the aged mafia, he summons his brother by telling a small spider.  Seeking brotherly reconciliation, Charlie's brother, Spider, shows up on his doorstep.  All all hell breaks loose.

It seems that Spider has some of his father's Godly blood.  He befuddles Charlie's friends and co-workers, pretends to be Charlie, makes off with the fiance, and stirs up trouble with the boss.  Charlie really just wants him to go away, and enters into a pact with another animal God to make it happen.  Except that it was more like making a deal with the devil.

My thoughts:  Everyone knows that Gaiman doesn't follow the rules when he is creating his stories and his worlds.  This story is no different.  It is full of belly-laugh humor, has a touch of magical realism and myth, a few fables, and a touching story of family.  I will admit, it did get a little goofy towards the end, and I found myself rolling my eyes.  You must cast aside all practicality if you are going to enjoy this one, but if you have read Gaiman, you already know this.

No offense to Gaiman, though, but the story was almost secondary for me.  The real attraction, and the reason why you all need to LISTEN to this book, is to experience the narration.  It was nothing short of brilliant.  Which leads me to...

A few words about the audio production:  Lenny Henry.  Do you know this guy?  Well.  After experiencing his awesomeness, I had to do a little research.  Lenny has been a stand-up comedian since 1975, has had television gigs, been in movies, blogs, and has even authored children's books.  In his narration of Anansi Boys, he flaunts all of his mad skillz, with British, Caribbean and even smooth-talking LA street accents.  He even sings (quite well).  In the world of narrators that do respectable jobs but are generally unmemorable, this fellow is a shining star.  It is what every audio should be.  Mr. Henry, please do a few more of these if you could.   
     


Story:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Narration:  5 out of 5 stars

21 comments:

caite said...

the narrator may be great, but given my issues with audios and the story, which is just a little too spidery for me,I think I will skip this one.
but if I happen to see that narrator again...

Nan said...

Oh, Lenny Henry!! Chef is one of the best tv shows I've ever seen. It is available on dvd from Netflix. He was married to Dawn French, but they have split.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I've just listened to The Graveyard Book. Gaiman seems to be a good author for audio. Thanks for the tip!

Laurie C said...

This was a great audiobook! I listened to it and then American Gods by Neil Gaiman (narrated by George Guidall), but it might have been better the other way around. The narration on both was excellent, but I agree that Lenny Henry was a standout!
http://baystatera.com/2009/06/03/anansi-boys-by-neil-gaiman/
P.S. I am adding your blog to my blogroll, if that's OK with you.

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JoAnn said...

OK... another one for my list and I'll be sure to listen. Thought I heard that Gaiman usually narrates his own books. This must be the exception?

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Wow, sounds like a great book for the car when good narration is so important!

Martha@Hey, I want to read that said...

I was going to mention Chef with Lenny Henry and saw someone already mentioned it. But it's so good it should be mentioned again. I haven't read this Neil Gaiman but knowing who the reader is I'm going to order the audio book.

Zibilee said...

I have only read one book by Gaiman, and that one was American Gods. I liked it, but I have heard that Anansi Boys is better. Hence, I will have to read this one. The plot of this book certainly intrigues, and since you mention that the audio version is so fabulous, I might have to try that version too. Great review, Sandy. I am so glad that you are feeling the Gaiman love!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Isn't the audio of this divine! I liked the story more than you did, but I'm a sucker for Gaiman's stuff. I'm glad you liked it though!

Julie P. said...

Wow -- Very interesting review. I have never read or listened to a Gaiman book.

bermudaonion said...

It sounds like I need to check Lenny Henry out. I'm listening to The Midnight Palace right now and the narration of it is fabulous too.

Carrie K. said...

I knew you would love the narration of this one! :)

Jenners said...

But would you choose Lenny Henry over your beloved Simon Vance??? : )

Book Dilettante said...

Anansi was a favorite of mine when I listened to West Indian folk tales, based on African folk tales. Glad the author has used it to write his own tale! Would love to read this.

Book Dilettante

Alyce said...

I don't think I'll be reading the story anytime soon, but thanks for the heads up about the narrator!

DamnedConjuror said...

Lenny Henry was, at times, really funny especially in the eighties with all the classic British comedians.

Kathleen said...

I still haven't read any Gaiman. I know readers everywhere are gasping. I do have this book on my shelves somewhere (I think) along with The Graveyard Book.

heidenkind said...

I have read 1 Neil Gaiman book. No, wait, 2. Can you believe that? I loved both of them but I never think about picking up his books.

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

Wait, a Neil Gaiman book that he doesn't narrate himself? I'm not sure I can deal with that.

Literate Housewife said...

Love how you rate the story and the narrator separately in this review. I've not read this Gaiman and it usually gets iffy reviews. I think I'll just leave it alone for a while. I still have American Gods to conquer.