Friday, April 20, 2007

Confessions of a Former English Major

I think I was reading too much into Anansi Boys. Maybe it's partly because I was an English major in undergrad (it's only been a year...), but I was reading it with many thoughts in mind:
  • Do I like this story?
  • Would a teen like this story?
  • How does this fit in with the personal identity asset?

My answers:

  • I liked the story.
  • I'm not sure. I wouldn't have read it as a teen, and I couldn't find reviews on Amazon by teens.
  • Introverts are bad?

Like I said, maybe I'm reading too much into it. I'm interested in what other people in the class thought. I liked the book, the story of two brothers, Spider and Charles, who never met and eventually have to work together to survive, and how Fat Charlie started out kind of boring and embarrassed by his dad and really took control of his life. Though it was fun to watch his character change, I couldn't help but think, the way his character is described in the beginning, it seems like shy, introverted ("boring") people need to change. Being a rather introverted, shy person myself, I find this rather troubling. I had a sort of mixed reaction towards Fat Charlie, because while I enjoyed Charlie's change (I noticed, like a good English major, that at the beginning, he had his father's nickname for him, "Fat Charlie," but as his character changed, his name changed to Charlie in the narration), I couldn't help agreeing with him quite a bit at the beginning. His dad was kind of lacksadaisical, a poor father figure. I would have been embarrassed if my dad were like that. But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, just a personality thing. Some people don't like the limelight, and get kind of embarrassed when people pay attention to them "by default," because someone nearby, like a parent or friend, is being, well, noticeable. Does it help or hinder teens' feeling about themselves if they think they need to change to be able to like themselves? I don't know.

So now that I've been extremely critical, I should say again that I really enjoyed the story, and I really am looking forward to hearing what everyone else thought. :-)


Linda Braun said...

Hmmmm, I'm wondering if there was a theme in the book that everyone has to change, or was the theme that sometimes giving up the known, taking chances, and being open to change isn't a bad thing.

Also, it seems to me that character change is a main part of a lot of novels - it's what propels the story. Isn't that true - asking the English major in you.

Mary said...

Yes, character change is a huge part of novels, so much so that I rather feel robbed if the character hasn't changed some. I guess what bothered me is that, other than being whinier, Fat Charlie the introvert reminded me a lot of myself. I like a quiet life. I would've been embarrassed by his dad's behavior, and I would've been bothered by Spider's, too. On the other hand, I'll have a much better job. :-)

All in all, after class discussion I felt I'd been rather hard on him.