Excerpt of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
(Page 1 of 3)
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Which is Mostly About
Names and Family Relationships
It begins, as most things begin, with a song.
In the beginning, after all, were the words, and they came with a
tune. That was how the world was made, how the void was divided, how
the lands and the stars and the dreams and the little gods and the
animals, how all of them came into the world.
They were sung.
The great beasts were sung into existence, after the Singer had
done with the planets and the hills and the trees and the oceans and
the lesser beasts. The cliffs that bound existence were sung, and the
hunting grounds, and the dark.
Songs remain. They last. The right song can turn an emperor into a
laughing stock, can bring down dynasties. A song can last long after
the events and the people in it are dust and dreams and gone. That's
the power of songs.
There are other things you can do with songs. They do not only make
worlds or recreate existence. Fat Charlie Nancy's father, for example,
was simply using them to have what he hoped and expected would be a
marvelous night out.
Before Fat Charlie's father had come into the bar, the barman had
been of the opinion that the whole karaoke evening was going to be an
utter bust; but then the little old man had sashayed into the room,
walked past the table of several blonde women with the fresh sunburns
and smiles of tourists, who were sitting by the little makeshift stage
in the corner. He had tipped his hat to them, for he wore a hat, a
spotless green fedora, and lemon-yellow gloves, and then he walked
over to their table. They giggled.
"Are you enjoyin' yourselves, ladies?" he asked.
They continued to giggle and told him they were having a good time,
thank you, and that they were here on vacation. He said to them, it
gets better, just you wait.
He was older than they were, much, much older, but he was charm
itself, like something from a bygone age when fine manners and courtly
gestures were worth something. The barman relaxed. With someone like
this in the bar, it was going to be a good evening.
There was karaoke. There was dancing. The old man got up to sing,
on the makeshift stage, not once, that evening, but twice. He had a
fine voice, and an excellent smile, and feet that twinkled when he
danced. The first time he got up to sing, he sang "What's New
Pussycat?" The second time he got up to sing, he ruined Fat Charlie's
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 gum to the sole of a
tennis shoe. He would introduce himself as Charles or, in his early
twenties, Chaz, or, in writing, as C. Nancy, but it was no use: the
name would creep in, infiltrating the new part of his life just as
cockroaches invade the cracks and the world behind the fridge in a new
kitchen, and like it or not -- and he didn't -- he would be Fat
The foregoing is excerpted from Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. All
rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced
without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd
Street, New York, NY 10022.