Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coyote, Anansi, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox

My life seems to be filled with tricksters this winter. After realizing that Bury Me Standing is overdue at the library, I decided to just return it and read something else. I chose Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, because it's one of few stand-alone audiobooks I have on my iPod, and I can't exactly be taking good hardcovers outside in this snow.

I think, before I started listening, I wasn't really paying attention to the title. Anansi. The trickster of African stories. Winter is the season of the trickster, you know. It's the time of the year when you can tell and hear trickster stories without getting the often unwelcome attention of the trickster. And this winter, intentionally or not, I've been doing just that. It started with Coyote Road, which is a collection of original trickster stories prefaced by a long history of the trickster and the history of the trickster throughout the world. That was followed by going to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which, by the way, was absolutely fantastic. :) Charles de Lint's books feature Raven as well as Coyote (who's called Cody and is a background character). And now Anansi Boys, which I chose simply because I love Neil Gaiman, not remembering that Anansi is another trickster. I never even read the description of the story, but after listening to the first couple chapters, I'm pretty sure it's about the sons of Anansi.

Trickster's stories show up all around the world: Kitsune in Japanese tales, Raven and Coyote in Native American stories, Anansi in African and Carribean stories, Puck in Celtic tales, Hermes in Greek, etc., etc. One thing I've always been fascinated by is fairy and folk tales, and the ways in which they are adapted and used in cultures as time goes by. If I went back to school, I'm pretty sure that's what I'd study.

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