Anansi Boys

2005 novel by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys (2005) by Neil Gaiman is a companion to Gaiman's earlier novel American Gods. In Anansi Boys we discover that 'Mr. Nancy' (Anansi) from American Gods has two sons, and the two sons in turn discover each other. The novel follows their adventures as they explore their common heritage.

All page numbers are from the mass market edition published by Harper Torch ISBN 978-0-06-051519-5 in October 2005, 1st printing

Chapter 1 - Which is Mostly About Names and Family Relationships

  • It begins, as most things begin, with a song.
    • pg. 1 (opening words)
  • Fat Charlie was only ever fat for a handful of years, from shortly before the age of ten, which was when his mother announced to the world that if there was one thing she was over and done with (and if the gentleman in question had any argument with it he could just stick it you know where) it was her marriage to that elderly goat that she had made the unfortunate mistake of marrying and she would be leaving in the morning for somewhere a long way away and he had better not try to follow, to the age of fourteen, when Fat Charlie grew a bit and exercised a little more. He was not fat. Truth to tell, he was not really even chubby, simply slightly soft-looking around the edges. But the name Fat Charlie clung to him, like chewing gun to the sole of a tennis shoe.
    • pg. 3

Chapter 2 - Which is Mostly About the Things That Happen After Funerals

  • Stories are like spiders, with all they long legs, and stories are like spiderwebs, which man gets himself all tangled up in but which look so pretty when you see them under a leaf in the morning dew, and in the elegant way that they connect to one another, each to each.
    • pg. 45

Chapter 4 - Which Concludes With an Evening of Wine, Women and Song

  • Spider: Things came up.
    Fat Charlie: What kind of things?
    Spider: Things. They came up. That's what things do. They come up. I can't be expected to keep track of them all.
    • pg. 75

Chapter 5 - In Which We Examine the Many Consequences of the Morning After

  • “I’ll putting her down for table H,” said Rosie’s mother. “She’ll be more comfortable there.” She said it in the same way most people would say things like, “Do you wish to die quickly, or shall I let Mongo have his fun first?”
    • pg. 98
  • So that’s how they find Anansi the next morning, when his wife and his sons come down to the pea patch by the old breadfruit tree: all stuck to the tar man, and dead as history.
    They weren’t surprised to see him like that.
    Those days, you used to find Anansi like that all the time.
    • pg. 114

Chapter 6 - In Which Fat Charlie Fails to Get Home, Even by Taxi

  • “The ties of blood,” said Spider, “are stronger than water.”
    “Water’s not strong,” objected Fat Charlie.
    “Stronger than vodka, then. Or volcanoes. Or, or ammonia.”
    • pg. 119
  • “Grahame Coats. He wants me to pop in tomorrow.”
    Spider said, “He’s a bastard.”
    “So? You’re a bastard.”
    “Different kind of bastard.”
    • pg. 122
  • “I tell him how he can contact his brother.”
    “Ahh,” said Mrs. Dunwiddy. She could disapprove with just that one syllable.
    • pg. 128
  • 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.
    • pg. 137
  • “You, Charles. The police suspect you.”
    “Yes,” said Fat Charlie. “Of course they do. It’s been that sort of a day.”
    • pg. 138
  • Nothing good lasts forever, after all. Sooner or later, as Grahame Coats himself would have delighted in assuring you, even if your goose habitually lays golden eggs, it will still be cooked.
    • pg. 142

Chapter 7 - In Which Fat Charlie Goes a Long Way

  • “Might get Anansi mad,” said Monkey. “Very bad idea that. Get Anansi mad, you never in any more stories.”
    “Anansi’s dead,” said Fat Charlie.
    “Dead there,” said Monkey. “Maybe. But dead here? That’s another stump of grubs entirely.”
    • pg. 171
  • Don’t you start going all British on me. I know what I’m sayin’. You and him, you both cut from the same cloth. I remember your father sayin’ to me, Callyanne, my boys, they stupider than—you know, it don’t matter what he actually said, but the point is, he said it about both of you.
    • pg. 180
  • There’s another version of the story where they talk Anansi into the cookpot, too. The stories are all Anansi’s, but he doesn’t always come out ahead.
    • pg. 184

Chapter 8 - In Which A Pot of Coffee Comes in Particularly Useful

  • Several years earlier Spider had actually been tremendously disappointed by a barrelful of monkeys. It had done nothing he had considered particularly entertaining, apart from emit interesting noises, and eventually, once the noises had stopped and the monkeys were no longer doing anything at all—except possibly on an organic level—had needed to be disposed of in the dead of night.
    • pg. 185
  • Spider was not particularly good at telling the truth. He regarded truth as fundamentally malleable, more or less a matter of opinion, and Spider was able to muster some pretty impressive opinions when he had to.
    • pg. 201-202
  • He was having second thoughts about all this, something Spider found fairly disconcerting. Normally he didn’t even have first thoughts about things.
    • pg. 202
  • A pot of coffee arrived on a small silver tray, with two cups.
    “Greek coffee,” said the proprietor, who had brought it.
    “Yes. Thanks. I did ask for a couple of minutes...”
    “Is very hot,” said the proprietor. “Very hot coffee. Strong. Greek. Not Turkish.”
    • pg. 203

Chapter 9 - In Which Fat Charlie Answers the Door and Spider Encounters Flamingos

  • That did not disturb Fat Charlie. It was England in the autumn; the sun was, by definition, something that only happened when it wasn’t cloudy or raining.
    • pg. 208
  • He did not ask himself why he was now so certain that everything would soon begin to improve. There was reality, and there was reality, and some things were more real than others.
    • pg. 209
  • Human beings do not like being pushed about by gods. They may seem to, on the surface, but somewhere on the inside, underneath it all, they sense it, and they resent it. They know. Spider could tell her to be happy about the situation, and she would be happy, but it would be as real as painting a smile on her face—a smile that she would truly believe, in every way that mattered, was her own.
    • pg. 214
  • It would be an astonishingly undignified way to go, crushed by birds, and not even particularly intelligent birds.
    Think, he told himself. They’re flamingos. Bird-brains. You’re Spider.
    So? he thought back at himself, irritated. Tell me something I don’t know.
    • pg. 220

Chapter 10 - In Which Fat Charlie Sees the World and Maeve Livingstone is Dissatisfied

  • Nothing happened. Nothing continued to happen. More Nothing. The Return of Nothing. Son of Nothing. Nothing Rides Again. Nothing and Abbott and Costello meet the Wolfman...
    • pg. 229
  • “It’s all right for you, you’re dead. You don't have to worry about these things.”
    “You’re dead, too, love.”
    “That is quite beside the point,” she said.
    • pg. 235
  • Ah well, she thought. Being dead is probably just like everything else in life: you pick some of it up as you go along, and you just make up the rest.
    • pg. 236-237
  • The door opened.
    “Don’t you knock?” asked Fat Charlie.
    “No,” said the policeman. “We don’t, actually.”
    • pg. 238
  • Spider said, “They do a really nice sort of noodly-stew thing here, by the way.”
    “Are you sure we’re in Italy?”
    “Not really.”
    • pg. 240
  • “So you met the Bird Woman, and...?”
    “She offered to make you go away. And, um. Well, I took her up on it.”
    “That,” said Spider, with a movie-star smile, “was really stupid.”
    “I didn’t tell her to hurt you.”
    “What did you think she was going to do to get rid of me? Write me a stiff letter?”
    “I don’t know. I didn’t think. I was upset.”
    “Great. Well, if she has her way, you’ll be upset, and I’ll be dead. You could have just asked me to leave, you know.”
    “I did!”
    “Er. What did I say?”
    “That you liked it in my house and you weren’t going anywhere.”
    • pg. 242
  • “Maeve, love. You need to put the flesh behind you.”
    “Well, obviously, dear. And I will. I promise I will. As soon as I’m ready.”
    “Maeve, you’re dead. How much more ready can you be?”
    She sighed. “I’ve still got a few things to sort out at this end.”
    • pg. 257

Chapter 11 - In Which Rosie Learns To Say No To Strangers And Fat Charlie Acquires A Lime

  • It is a small world. You do not have to live in it particularly long to learn that for yourself. There is a theory that, in the whole world, there are only five hundred real people (the cast, as it were; all the rest of the people in the world, the theory suggests, are extras) and what is more, they all know each other. And it’s true, or true as far as it goes. In reality the world is made of thousands upon thousands of groups of about five hundred people, all of whom will spend their lives bumping into each other, trying to avoid each other, and discovering each other in the same unlikely teashop in Vancouver. There is an unavoidability to this process. It’s not even coincidence. It’s just the way the world works, with no regard for individuals or for propriety.
    • pg. 284

Chapter 12 - In Which Fat Charlie Does Several Things For The First Time

  • “You’re no help,” he told the lime. This was unfair. It was only a lime; there was nothing special about it at all. It was doing the best it could.
    • pg. 302

Chapter 13 - Which Proves Unlucky For Some

  • "You aren’t scared of limes, are you?" asked Charlie, before remembering that he’d given the lime to Daisy.
    The creature laughed, scornfully. "I," it said, "am frightened of nothing."
    "Nothing," it said.
    Charlie said "Are you extremely frightened of nothing?"
    "Absolutely terrified of it," admitted the Dragon.
    "You know," said Charlie "I have nothing in my pockets. Would you like to see it?"
    "No," said the Dragon uncomfortably, "I most definitely would not."
    There was a flapping of wings like sails, and Charlie was alone on the beach. "That," he said "was much too easy."
    • pg. 348-349
  • The beast made the noise of a cat being shampooed, a lonely wail of horror and outrage, of shame and defeat.
    • pg. 355

Chapter 14 - Which Comes to Several Conclusions

  • Daisy looked up at him with the kind of expression that Jesus might have given someone who had just explained that he was probably allergic to bread and fishes, so could He possibly do him a quick chicken salad: there was pity in that expression, along with almost infinite compassion.
    • pg. 363
  • Tiger roared in anger, and Charlie took the roar and wound his song around it. Then he did the roar himself, just like Tiger had done it. Well, the roar began just as Tiger’s roar had, but then Charlie changed it, so it became a really goofy sort of roar, and all the creatures watching from the rocks started to laugh. They couldn’t help it. Charlie did the goofy roar again. Like any impersonation, like any perfect caricature, it had the effect of making what it made fun of intrinsically ridiculous. No one would ever hear Tiger roar again without hearing Charlie’s roar underneath it. “Goofy sort of a roar,” they’d say.
    • pg. 369
  • Together the man and the boy danced their way back up the sand to the house, singing a wordless song that they made up as they went along, which lingered in the air even after they had gone in for breakfast.
    • pg. 384 (closing words)

Repeated quote

  • Grahame Coats/Stoat: "Absatively."
    • Repeated throughout the book