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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

06.01.2006

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DigsMagazine.com.

the bookshelf:
g
ods among us
by Yee-Fan Sun
|
1 2 3
continued from page 1

As author of the cult classic Sandman comics as well as the popular novels American Gods and Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman has been merging ancient folklore with the modern western world for ages. His writing is always darkly funny, engaging, and terrifically readable; he has a knack for making gods seems enticingly, hilariously, human. But I have to confess, as a non-fantasy geek, I haven't always understand all his mythological allusions; in previous books like American Gods, this has been problematic; I sometimes get to story's end and realize that I have absolutely no idea what's actually happened. I like the writing style; I like the characters; I have no doubt that my inability to understand the meaning behind those stories lies solely in my own inadequacies. Still, I was beginning to assume that Gaiman books just weren't really for me. Then I picked up Anansi Boys. Featuring the usual Gaiman trademarks -- gods and witches and monsters merging with pop culture, a wonderfully weird, slightly twisted brand of humor -- it's also a departure from his usual tendency towards epic. Beneath all the myth and magic, this is a quirkily sweet story about the relationships men form. It's about a father and his sons; it's about two brothers who only think they have nothing in common. Hardcore Gaiman fans might deem this latest offering too insubstantial, too short; me, I found the simplicity a big part of its charm. Like the best folk tales, Anansi Boys takes a basic little yarn and spins it into a very cool web.

o o o

Percy and the Olympians, Book 1: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan buy it

Percy Jackson has gotten kind of used to the fact that he's the kind of kid society likes to label "troubled". The product of a broken home, he lives with his hardworking mom, who he adores, and his no-good, emotionally abusive, gambling-addict stepfather, who he loathes; at the tender age of twelve, he's gotten kicked out of more schools than he can count. Getting through each grade is hard enough for Percy with his ADHD and dyslexia; even worse, strange things have a tendency to happen around Percy, which means that teachers generally hate him, and fellow classmates think he's weird. At his latest school, it's mostly the same old same old; his pre-algebra teacher clearly has it in for him, and he's the favorite target of the class bully. His only friend is a scrawny outcast named Grover. True, his history teacher is the first adult in a long while to treat him halfway decent, but Percy's so accustomed to schools thinking he's stupid that he can't understand why Mr. Brunnick insists on pushing him in their classics lessons. Still, while it's not the easiest life, Percy never even suspects that there might be some reason behind all his difficulties. Until the day that Percy finds himself being attacked during a school field trip -- by his horrible math teacher no less, who suddenly turns into a terrifying batlike creature hell-bent on Percy's destruction. It's the first in a chain of events that brings Percy's life into mortal peril, revealing his true identity as the son of one of the great gods of Olympus.

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