Okay, I find it funny to put these two in the same post because they're so contridictory. It just shows you how much my opinion can change in a week or two (and over the last two thirds of a book).
I can't decide if I like Neil Gaiman's style or not. Okay, that's not accurate. I like his style. It fits the character. What I really don't like is the main character. Fat Charlie is so weak, there is nothing to root for. Every chance he gets to redeem himself, to fight back, to take a stand, he wimps out. It's not a trait I like in a person or a character.
I like to read books about characters I like, not characters I like to hate. I spend a lot of time with each book (especially now that I'm trying to slow down and study them a little, per Prose's comments). So reading about a character that I just plain don't like is like inviting people that I don't like to dinner. All the fun things, all the shared conversations, are drained dry, sucked of fun. It's not something I would do to myself in real life. And yet…
Yet, I argued with myself every time I thought, "Let's just skim ahead and find out what happens, put this book aside, and go back to enjoying the rest of the books on my shelves." I couldn't make myself do it. I want to continue to read, if only, I decided, for one simple reason: Gaiman has no qualms about making his characters miserable. Not just making their lives miserable and yet having them buoyed by some inner strengths through the rough times. Nope. Not Gaiman. He leaves Fat Charlie to suffer, and suffer, and just when it couldn't—shouldn't—get worse, Gaiman adds a little more to Fat Charlie's load. As an author who cringes when putting my favorite characters through tough ordeals, it's a good lesson for me to watch a master perform. Books without conflicts are dull. Characters who have it easy are no fun. I understand this, but try spending a month or two with a person, and during that time wishing them ill will at every turn. It's hard.
So I continued. Will I read another Gaiman novel? Not for a long time, if ever. Am I glad I did. Yes. Frustratingly, yes.
(This is from a few days after I finished the book, about ten days after I wrote Part II.)
Did I like Anansi Boys when it’s all said and done? The fact that I’m still talking about it says a lot. Yes, I ended up liking it. I liked the character growth. Fat Charlie grew on me, as he was supposed to. I liked the fantastical elements interwoven. I liked that it got me out of my comfort zone. (I say this, having finished it and now being back within my comfort zone.) Am I ready to rush out an buy another Neil Gaiman book? Definitely not. Will I ever? Yes.
Reading this book made it hard for me to find the next book to read. For me, that’s a good sign. It means I was so in an author’s world that I’m not ready to leave it. My two books I planned to read—Kim Harrison’s The Outlaw Demon Wails and Janet Evanovich’s Foul Play—I decided against. Evanovich doesn’t have enough meat in her books (I like them, but sometimes I want a little more—she’s like the Hemingway of the authors I read); Harrison had too much meat, and I wanted to be in the right mood to savor her novel.
I read the several pages of a Jayne Castle paranormal, returned to it later in the day and realized I couldn’t remember a thing I’d read. I read the first chapter of a Caitlin Kittredge novel, only to realize I wasn’t in the mood for her kind of violence (I’ve never read her before, so I didn’t know what to expect). I’ll be in the mood again, I’m sure. Just not yet.
So I finally decided on something in the middle—with a little more lust to boot. Sitting in the number-one spot on the shelf is the book I’m currently reading: Lora Leigh’s Mercury’s War.