Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman

            This has been my favorite book so far.  Gaiman has the narrative voice I was left wanting from the previous reading.  I love the little things he adds to his descriptions.  I remember laughing out loud when he says that Fat Charlie’s son has the sincerity that only small children and gorilla’s have been able to master.  Those little things may not really do much to move the plot along, but as the reader, it enhances the experience for me.  It must take more consideration to add things like that or make sure an analogy works with the thing it describes.  This was much more the witty narration I was looking for and I fell head over heels for it.
            I am a sucker for Fat Charlie.  I relate to him very much.  Part of me wants to be Anansi, the life of the party, the karaoke king.  However, the other 99.9% of me is more inhibited and would pass out right next to Fat Charlie on stage.  Maybe I was split apart as a child.  Maybe there is another half of me somewhere.  What if I am the cooler of the two halves, the Spider side?  That poor bastard other half must be absotively pitiful. 
            The whole thought that everything is created through song is interesting to me.  I think it is a good way to say that we are all beats in a larger rhythm.  Simply the cowbell in a  much more intricate Milky Way Philharmonic Orchestra.  The moments when Fat Charlie has his epiphany and is able to sing to all the mythical beasts is pure beauty.  I do not remember exactly how his song went; I was too overwhelmed with the thought of that moment.  It is a perfect culmination of a dramatic climax, a character finding peace in his own skin, and multiple resolutions.  I could not believe how strongly this scene in the book hit me.  I am kind of at a loss for words about that.  Because of that, I feel like I should thank you for requiring this reading.  I always feel appreciative when somebody makes me laugh a really satisfying, gut busting laugh, and this book left me feeling in a way that I should be similarly appreciative.  I want to check out more of Gaiman’s writing when I have more time over winter break.

The Golden Compass - Phillip Pullman

I’m sure this is a great story.  I’m sure that I would really enjoy it if I gave it enough time and got into it.  The four chapters I read just were not doing it for me.  I know four chapters is hardly anything and I am basically judging a book by its cover.  Maybe I am intimidated because I have the edition with the entire trilogy bound in one giant paperback volume.  Who knows?
The first thing I thought while reading it was: Why does the young hero always come from some horrible past.  They are always orphans with extraordinary character and spunk.  What about a protagonist for the everyday child?  We need John Mellencamp or Bruce Springsteen to write a children’s fantasy novel.  There is a fantastical world with magical events about to unfold and these stories always start with some kid from the bottom.  It could be the whole fascination with the underdog, but if you got a prepubescent kid slaying dragons and restoring the world’s faith, isn’t that extreme enough?  Do they really have to have murdered parents and a horrible childhood on their resume to qualify for the job of protagonist?  Where does that leave all the regular kids who are tucked in their safe little beds reading these stories past their bedtime?  Their parents are not even divorced or dead.  They have no hope at living a life anybody will want to read.  A dull desk job is all that awaits them.  No grand call to destiny.  Just wither away their existence all because their parents took good care of them. 
I was also considering the narration in this story.  I see why an author would choose to use third person to capture all the details of an environment, character’s feelings, and their interactions.  It seems like a better way to cover the vast array of details a writer would want to shove in their imagined world.  I think I like Tolkien’s third person narration style more, with his meandering thoughts and side notes.  It seems to have more personal voice than straightforward reporting.  Pullman offers some descriptive material that is biased or opinionated but it is just not doing it for me.  I would love see it exaggerated much more.  If you are going to write a children’s novel make every descriptive metaphor a fart joke or slap stick humor.  I guess I just want to feel like my narrator is a character in itself.  I would prefer a narrator who seems emotionally invested, overly cynical, and a little more than half drunk.
Now that this is on the Internet, hopefully somebody will write a story with this type of narration.  That would be top notch.