Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sons of the Spider-Man

"The important thing about songs is that they're just like stories. They don't mean a damn unless there's people listenin' to them."

Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys, p. 304.

Finished this on the nose of midnight last night, after a late finish at wurk. An easily embarrased young bloke (whose racial heritage is subtly played) discovers that his recently-deceased dad was more than he seemed. What's more, the e.e. bloke has a brother he never knew about. A cooler, spunkier brother who's about to take over his life...

In style, it reminded me a lot of Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (my favourite of Adams's fiction). There's a similar casual collapse of the solid world-as-you-know-it for the hapless, meaning-well chap caught up with old gods. That's not to accuse Gaiman of copying; the backgrounds of characters (both gods and monsters) are quite distinct, and the books are about different things.

Didn't feel it particularly horrifying, though, despite what Gaiman said about how the thing came about (Lenny Henry muttering that there b'ain't be black horror stuff). It's more strange and kooky, and though there are some violent and icky bits... it's not too scary, say, to be read by the timid wife. The problem is (if it is actually a problem) that the whole's things too charming, too pleasurable a read to horrify.

It's full of lovely incidents and gags, but it'd be spoiling the surprises to describe them here. No mention, though, of the old gag about special spider abilities; Peter Parker can never get out of the bath.

As I write this post, snow is swirling gently round one of the courtyards of the (aptly goth) Palace of Westminster. "It's ash," suggests m'colleague B. He should stop smoking on the roof.

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