by Neil Gaiman
The recent arrival of the Sandman TV series has put Neil Gaiman at the front of my mind, and in roaming the library shelves about a week ago I realized I hadn't read his Anansi Boys. Anansi is a Caribbean trickster god (his origins lie elsewhere, but as Gaiman's American Gods tells us, it's important to understand where this version of the god originates from. This is a story of Fat Charlie Nancy, the fairly normal son of Anansi ("Mr. Nancy") who's dragged into the world of magic after the death of his father.
Fat Charlie (who isn't particularly fat - you'll learn the story if you read the book) lives in modern day Britain, where he has a job, a fiancée, and little ambition. After his father's death, he returns to Florida for the funeral. At the funeral, he finds out from his father's neighbours that he has a brother that he somehow doesn't remember. Meeting his brother turns Charlie's life completely on its head.
I'm struggling to come up with a good description of the prose. "Ridiculous" doesn't do it justice, and in using that word I'm not sure how to convey how much good ridiculousness there is in the book. I'll let Neil Gaiman explain:
This is on page 120 of 334. It's not a particularly deep book (although there's a lot going on and it's well thought out), but it's very, very entertaining and quite charming.
Like all sentient beings, Fat Charlie had a weirdness quotient. For some days the needle had been over in the red, occasionally banging jerkily against the pin. Now the meter broke. From this moment on, he suspected, nothing would surprise him. He could no longer be outweirded. He was done.
He was wrong, of course.