|“||If you ever see my brother, tell him he should pop over and say hello||„|
|~ Fat Charlie to the spider he finds in his bathtub, which is the biggest mistake he ever makes|
Charles "Fat Charlie" Nancy is the main protagonist and hero of Anansi Boys, a dark fantasy/comedy/thriller novel by Neil Gaiman. Charles Nancy is engaged to Rosie at the start of the novel, yet as events progress, (all through his doing) it becomes clear to him he has to undo the damage he inadvertently caused.
Fat Charlie was born somewhere in late 1980s and he was the son of Mr Nancy, an unemployed businessman who somehow acted as if he was extremely rich, and his father was a really awful comedian, as well as an arrogant bastard. For example he said a neighbour's pristine dog was a bit scruffy and down at heel and "goofy" which became the name of the dog to the entire neighbourhood. Mr Nancy also humiliated Fat Charlie thousands of times, both publicly and at home, mainly because Charlie was, well, a fat kid, and this resulted in Charlie having no self esteem when he grew up.
Over time, Fat Charlie got fitter and lost weight, and became a banker in the Grahame Coats offices in Aldwych in London. He became much more successful than he ever had as a kid. But Grahame Coats was weird, because he seemed to want Charlie sacked, and he always implied Charlie was wasting time at his office and he ought to be getting on with other things.
Charlie met Rosie one day and became infatuated with her. He began dating her but his first visit to her mother's house went bad. Charlie learned her mother was a bitter, well, bitch (there's no other word for her) and she would always look at Charlie as if he was the spawn of Satan. However, Rosie seemed to like Charlie, and she always proposed that she get married to him but her cruel mother wouldn't accept it.
During one such talk about the marriage, Charlie learned that his eccentric father, Mr Nancy, had died mysteriously. Rosie was overcome with grief and thought Charlie was too stunned with shock to talk, but all that it was was Charlie was too embarrassed. He was remembering the time when before his mother's funeral she had to witness Mr Nancy riding down the aisle of the hospital on a tricycle with a hundred men in tuxedos and embarrassing Charlie even more than was possible at the time. Charlie was actually kind of relieved his father was dead.
His father's funeral and Spider
Before the funeral, Mrs Higgler, an equally eccentric and mad old lady came over from Jamaica to assist in the funeral. She bullied Charlie into actually digging his father's grave and filling it in, not just "show willing." She then hugged Charlie saying he was now finally a man. Charlie had botched up the funeral beforehand by going to someone else's funeral in the first place and embarrassing himself in front of them all.
Charlie went back with Mrs Higgler, who said Mr Nancy's drinking buddies had all gone off drinking to have a pint off a bridge in his memory because Mr Nancy loved fishing. Charlie then fell to talking about his father and how awful his memories were. Mrs Higgler said Mr Nancy was a charming man, and for some reason she wouldn't talk about his youth, just saying she knew him "before her time." Then she suddenly said Mr Nancy was a god.
Inevitably, Charlie laughed at that, and she asked him what god he thought his dad might be. Charlie thought of Zeus and Cupid but Mrs Higgler laughed at the idea of Mr Nancy dressed in a diaper with wings. She then said that Mr Nancy was Anansi the Spider God, who was of African mythology, but had apparently gone to such far away places as the Caribbean and even Europe (in the form of Brer Rabbit). Mrs Higgler then said the thing that changed Charlie's life forever, that he had a brother.
Charlie of course didn't believe this, much so when Higgler showed him a photograph of Charlie and what he had believed was a reflective door in a shop and then said it was Charlie and his brother, Spider. Charlie asked how he could summon his mythical brother, to which Higgler said ask a spider and Spider, the brother, would come running. Charlie went home, and when his fiancee Rose saw a spider in the bath, she screamed, but encouraged Charlie not to kill it and get it out alive. Maybe it'd be better if Charlie had killed it because the moment it was outside, it stared at him, then Charlie, being drunk, told the little spider to tell his brother Spider to come and say hello. The spider raised a hairy leg, as if mulling it over, then appeared to nod and scurry off into the bushes.
Later, Charlie had a dream, where a "fly guy" was in Los Angeles, having a wild party where he actually taught a bunch of Hollywood guys to walk on water. When a spider arrived from a bush and told the guy of Charlie, the guy flew off, literally, into the dawn and turned up at Charlie's porch the next morning.
The man introduced himself as Spider, Charlie's long lost brother. He said that he was having a great old time. When invited inside, Charlie had to accept his brother despite never meeting him before. He made him a coffee and they said how life was. Charlie said he'd actually seen Spider before, at his mother's funeral, and then bought up his father's death. Spider wasn't sure about whether his father really was dead, so to double check he walked into a tiny photograph of Mrs Higgler's porch and disappeared off the face of the Earth.
The Bird Woman and other troubles
Charlie forgot about Spider for a week or so, dealing with work matters such as Maude Livingstone, widow of Morris Livingstone, famed TV presenter, but he eventually met Spider again in London, who was grieving because he found his father really was dead. Spider had a memorial party that night, dragging Charlie all round London, everywhere, buying drinks for loads of young women who flocked after him like a cult. Almost all of them liked Spider, apart from one woman, Daisy, who was interested in Charlie. Some thought Charlie was his bodyguard, but Charlie angrily disproved this. To Charlie's horror, they headed for a karaoke bar, and this was Charlie's worst fear. Spider encouraged him to do it because it was a funeral party, and they should remember his father, but Charlie said "He's not going to humiliate me from beyond the grave." Charlie was forced to sing Unforgettable but he felt sick and fell offstage, in a manner reminiscent of his father's death (except his father fell into a young woman's breasts, making it worse).
Charlie awoke the next morning to a naked Daisy next to him, and ran away in shock. Daisy was still there, and he got sick in the bathroom. But then Rosie's mother came, and to his horror, she saw Daisy. Charlie pretended she was his cousin, and Rosie's mother was suddenly eager for the wedding between Charlie and Daisy, and said "I don't want to hear anything from the best man what I wouldn't expect to hear in a church" and Charlie believed Rosie's mother would expect to hear things in a church like "Back! Foul beast of Hell!"
During the next week, Spider moved into Charlie's flat, bringing with him the Pleasure Dome of Kublai Khan. When it was just a three room flat and round Aldwych you have to pay for central heating. Having had enough, the brothers had a fight, and Charlie phoned Mrs Higgler, and said Spider was a pain in the ass. Mrs Higgler said don't say I didn't warn you but Charlie said who cares get rid of Spider. Mrs Higgler said she would see to it but only after she had her coffee hot. She then phoned her friends, Mrs Dunwiddy, Mrs Noles and Mrs Bustamonte, all French witches, who studied Voodoo. They summoned Charlie after the funeral to do some dark Voodoo magic which would send Charlie to the Beginning of the World at midnight and they said there Charlie would meet someone who could help him. But when he arrived, it was more like the End of the World, in that it was a giant cliff in clouds, and none of the gods would talk to him, because, like Charlie, they were too embarrassed of his father. So, Charlie found only three gods who would talk to him - Monkey, Tiger, and the Bird Woman, an eerie goddess who said she would kill or imprison Spider in her dimension to save Charlie's future.
However, she began stalking them both. In this time, Charlie bonded with Spider, and saw how his godlike powers could save them from doom. He actually split up with Rosie when she saw Spider and Charlie together, and knew it was Spider, not Charlie, who had visited her at work and had infatuated her. Spider had been playing at being Charlie a long time, impressing Grahame Coats at work and finding Coat's illegal Cayman Islands accounts to steal his clients' money. Coats was shocked that Spider knew of this, although of course he believed he was talking to Charlie, who didn't suspect a thing.
Coats had police try and arrest Charlie, but fortunately one of them was Daisy, who was a cop. She instead invited Charlie out for lunch.
Rosie was angry about the apparent deception Charlie did so she decided she would marry Spider instead.
Grahame Coats' treachery
However, Grahame Coats got more evil. At work, Maude Livingstone visited him, wanting her compensation money, but the evil Coats smashed her skull in with a mallet. Then he hid her body and fled London, to move to the Cayman Islands with his account money.
Although, Maude's ghost appeared and she began haunting the offices where she had died. She tried to help the police find her body but they couldn't see her, no one could apart from other ghosts like Mr Nancy, who had a waltz with her after saying how Anansi made the world more civilized and creative after inventing stories about wit and intelligence and banishing the cruel Tiger who wanted chaos and slaughter.
Charlie was framed for Maude's murder but Daisy got him off because she knew of his innocence and incompetent nature. Charlie then had Spider teleport him round the world to save him from the Bird Woman, and eventually she caught up with Spider and banished him to her dimension, to be chained as prey for Tiger. Spider however summoned his Spider Army and humiliated Tiger by stinging him. Charlie also entered the realm of the gods in another seance with the Voodoo witches and he rescued Spider in time, giving him back his tongue which the Bird Woman gave him when he redid his debt with her.
Charlie was pursued by Grahame Coats when he visited Mrs Higgler in Jamaica, and Coats tried to kill him twice. However, Rosie and her mother had taken a Caribbean cruise, and Coats captured them both after seducing Rosie's mother. He shut them in his basement. Then they broke out when he entered, to try and shoot them, Rosie's mother kneed him in the balls and Coats ended up possessed by the infuriated Tiger, who tried to kill Rosie, but Rosie was saved by Maude Livingstone, who banished Tiger from Coats, and damned Coats to the Beginning of the World in a cave. Coats was in a coma which eventually killed him, and Maude was able to move onto Heaven with her husband Morris.
Charlie now grew in confidence and power, and through his bonding with Spider and interactions with Daisy, became "cooler" than before. He tried on Mr Nancy's hat which Spider said was made only for Charlie. The two then went to the Beginning of the World where Charlie saw their father's ghost. He then sang a song about forgiveness and unity and civilization, resurrecting Rosie's mother, who had been in a near death experience due to a coma induced attack from Coats, and Charlie laughed at Tiger and called him goofy, echoing his father's catchphrase. An angry and humiliated Tiger ran off into a cave, but Spider shut Tiger in, imprisoning him forever and saving the world with Charlie.
Life with Daisy
Charlie now returned to Earth with Spider and Charlie proposed to Daisy, who accepted. They had proposed already when Daisy was threatened by Coats, but this time it was for real. Then Spider married Rosie and Charlie married Daisy. Their roles got reversed - when Spider became fatter from opening a restaurant with Rosie, Charlie became slimmer and more handsome with Daisy, and they had a son, who Charlie taught about US Presidents and how to talk to mermaids, especially the mermaid who had known his father.
Charlie was a very good natured man, who meant well, but to quote Alan Grant, "Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions." However, unlike many of those guys, Charlie was extremely good at fixing his mistakes.
Two examples were when he repaid/ended his debt to the Bird Woman and saved Spider from Tiger's attacks.
Charlie began as a fool, and a clown, very like Jonathan Carnahan, but like Jonathan, matured into a kind, responsible, mature man. Like Jonathan, Charlie was also a father figure both to Spider and his son. Ironically, the roles of Spider and Charlie got reversed: in the beginning Charlie was the weak buffoon, but soon that became Spider, and Charlie became the wise responsible one.
- Charlie begins life as Fat Charlie but at the end he becomes much slimmer.
- The name Charles means "warrior" and this may be why Anansi is disappointed in his son because of his cowardice and stay at home nature. However, Charlie becomes more brave and takes on monsters both human and non human, and saves his brother, and thus becomes more like a warrior, impressing his father's ghost.
- Originally, Spider is the overconfident, wise one, but Charlie takes up this role in the end.
- It is shown that Spider and Charlie are essentially one being split into two. Spider is Charlie's inner bravado and wisdom, and this is how they swap roles later.
- Anansi mentioned Charlie in the prequel, American Gods and he says he has a son. Its unclear which son he's referring to, but it's presumed to be Charlie, because he's insulting Shadow when he says this, and saying Shadow is as stupid as his son. Ironically Shadow takes it as a compliment.
- Eventually, Anansi becomes proud of his son Charlie when he hears his song in the Beginning of the World and sees him and Spider trap Tiger.
- Its funny how, on Earth, Charlie is very incompetent and has low self esteem, but in the Beginning of the World, Charlie is very confident and full of energy and caution. This seems to have empowered him when he returns to Earth again.
- Charlie is one of the few heroes to use dark magic to his own advantage - the seances the witches put him through is essentially dark magic, but they are using it for a good purpose, as does Charlie.
- Charlie is rather like Arthur Dent:
- Both start as a normal badass but then they develop into a wise mature individual
- Both love tea
- Both are British
- Both of them consult witches for knowledge of their future
- Both of them defeat dark deities
- Both Charlie and Arthur have cruel bosses who they loathe (Grahame Coats for Charlie, Mr Prosser for Arthur)
- Both Charlie and Arthur meet the woman of their dreams (Rosie for Charlie, Fenchurch for Arthur) but both split up with them in different ways.
- Turns out Charlie was not merely the son of a god, he was a god himself.