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or A passage of writing that shows why I like Neil Gaiman.


Fat Charlie blew his nose. ‘I never knew I had a brother,’ he said.

‘I did,’ admitted Spider. ‘I always meant to look you up, but I got distracted. You know how it is.’

‘Not really.’

‘Things came up.’

‘What kind of things?’

‘Things. They came up. That’s what things do. They come up. I can’t be expected to keep track of them all.’

‘Well give me a f’rinstance.’

Spider drank more wine. ‘OK. The last time I decided that you and I should meet, I, well, I spent days planning it. Wanted it to go perfectly. I had to choose my wardrobe. Then I had to decide what I’d say to you when we met. I knew that the meeting of two brothers, well, it’s the subject of epics, isn’t it? I decided that the only way to treat it with the appropriate gravity would be to do it in verse. But what kind of verse? Am I going to rap it? Declaim it? I mean, I’m not going to greet you with a limerick. So. It had to be something dark, something powerful, rhythmic, epic. And then, I had it. The perfect first line. Blood calls to blood like sirens in the night. It says so much. I knew I’d be able to get everything in there – people dying in alleys, sweat and nightmares, the power of free spirits uncrushable. Everything was going to be in there. And then I had to come up with a second line, and the whole thing completely fell apart. The best I could come up with was Tum-tumpty-tumpty-tumpty got a fright.’

Fat Charlie blinked. ‘Who exactly is Tum-tumpty-tumpty-tumpty?’

‘It’s not anybody. It’s just there to show you where the words ought to be. But I never really got any further on it than that, and I couldn’t turn up with just a first line, some tumpties and three words of an epic poem, could I? That would have been disrespecting you.’

‘Well . . .’

‘Exactly. So I went to Hawaii for the week instead. Like I said, something came up.’

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Headline Review, 2006, p92-93