Gods, Myth, and Dream

I just read Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, and it's well worth reading. Nothing earth-shatteringly immortal, but worthwhile. Gaiman is the author of the fantastic Sandman comic books/graphic novels.

I haven't read Gaiman's American Gods, but I think it will now. Gaiman's work is full of clever detail, so that even though he's always talking about the same thing, it never stops being fascinating. For example, a character in American Gods is named Wednesday. He used to be/is a god...Odin All-Father (Woden's Day). In Anansi Boys, our hero encounters a dragon who plans on eating him, and who is scared of nothing. Our hero threatens the dragon with the nothing he has in his pocket. Little clevernesses like that are what really do it for me (I know I'm easy). Many of his clevernesses are childish, but that's part of the point...story is for children. Gaiman has even published a couple of children's books.

Anansi Boys is about what all of Gaiman's stuff is about...Story, Truth, Myth. His characters are gods because they tell story and by it tell reality. In this book the conflict is between the ignorant sons of the newly-dead spidergod (whose stories are mischevious, clever, mean, and sometimes good) and the tigergod (whose stories are uniformly brutal, violent, and predatory). The sane reader prefers that Story continue to be told through spidereyes.

One of the fascinating dimensions of Gaiman's work (I keep saying Gaiman's work...these are obviously very post-modern themes well-developed, but he does such a great, graphic, job of conveying the stuff) is that, despite the fluidity of his stories, there's always a powerful sense of stasis and timelessness conveyed by the use of Symbol and Myth and Name.

If you click on the first Anansi Boys link in this post, you will be reminded of the opening of The Silmarillion, if it had been told by a Cuban exile in Miami, as he puffed on a cigar and drank his coffee.