I finished Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys last night, and liked it much more than I’d feared. It’s been sitting on my shelves for six months or more, waiting for me to dig in. I know this will sound odd to a lot of his fans: who tend to be passionate, but he’s been an uneven author for me. I love Stardust and Neverwhere; Coraline and I are just good friends. I liked Good Omens, but it’s been a long time. I really ought to reread it, but it’s probably with the mass of my books in storage somewhere. (“Somewhere” = I’m pretty sure they’re in Arizona, probably in the Phoenix metro area, but can’t be more precise than that. All our stuff was moved, packed, and stored after we left.)

Anyway, I did read American Gods, but it doesn’t seem to have made much impact.No love between us Just not the book for me, I think. (Someday I’ll give it another chance to make an impact.) Anansi Boys appealed to me a lot more. It feels to more like Neverwhere, in some ways, and the main characters definitely have some resemblances. That’s probably why I like it so much more, in fact: I care about Fat Charlie and (eventually) about Spider, so I wanted to know what happened to them. I like the use of West Indian / African culture mythology, which I haven’t seen used this well since Emma Bull used a different flavor of it in Bone Dance. The ending is as happy as the one in Stardust: there’s plenty of room to take it further should he choose, but it’s resolved enough to be satisfying.

If anything it could be a little longer; though not especially thick, it looked like the sort of book that would take a week to read but ended up taking a day or less. There are a few things that could be a little clearer: the role of the four old women, for instance. The biggest gap in the book is Rosie: she’s believable as Fat Charlie’s fiancee in the beginning (a much nicer one than Jessica in Stardust but with some superficial resemblance) but it’s really not clear why she’d have such a unique effect on Spider. Or for that matter, why he’s called Spider: yes, he has an affinity with them, but why? Why is Anansi the only one of the gods we see without an animal alter ego? In the versions of his stories I’ve seen, it’s usually Bre’er Fox playing the Trickster role, or else you have someone like Compere Anansi but he’s among other gods like Papa Legba. But those are minor nits, not enough to spoil the story at all. This is a good one.

On another topic entirely, you know what I just did? I clicked a button and had a day’s pay deducted from my check and sent to China. And here’s the thing: that money is going to help people who need it for the most basic survival needs *but also* it’s coming through Taiwanese charities. The government here as pledged a couple billion and individuals have raised that much again and – here’s the incredible part – China has said they’ll accept it. (They’re accepting help from Japan too, apparently also a big deal.) So I can help the starving and just maybe further the cause of world peace, too, by moving one finger (well, and getting a little less pay this month). Pretty cool, huh?