Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

I usually try to review less well-known books, but if I don't occasionally get fan-girly about my favourite authors, you'll never know who my favourite authors are, right? So here's a little bit about Neil Gaiman's latest, though nothing I say will do it justice. (It's actually kind of hilarious to read the Goodread reviews of this book, because everyone tries to wax lyrical just to convey how much the book meant to them. Some of the reviews are works of literature themselves!)

If I had to sum it up for you quickly, I'd say The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Coraline for grown-ups. (Of course, "there aren't any grown ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.")(Ocean is an eminently quotable book, you'll find.) Coraline is one of the most perfect, beautiful, scary books I've ever read. Gaiman knows exactly what children are afraid of and why. Ocean is narrated by an adult remembering an event from his childhood, so Gaiman can play with childhood fears that are also adult fears, for slightly different reasons. It's so interesting watching him dissect human psychology using only story to do it, because that's what story is for, and no one writing today understands story better than Gaiman. The book has layers like the ocean has salt.

I'm starting to blather. It's impossible not to. Never mind. Just read the darn book. It will get its little hook in your heart and you'll be blathering with the rest of us.

One thing I noticed about the reviews is that people who didn't like the book were disappointed that it wasn't something else. You can't come to a Gaiman book expecting anything, or assuming it's like anything else. He doesn't do categories. Ocean is a story, that's all. It's lovely and prickly and heartstopping and

I'm blathering again. Sorry.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the salad my daughter made the other night: fresh greens, peaches, strawberries, avocados and grilled bison, with a blackberry vinaigrette I could eat with a spoon it was so good. Complex, with flavours and textures that interact and enhance each other with their contrasts of

Sorry. I'll stop now.


  1. I think I'll follow your advice and read the damn book! He spoke at BEA, and it sounded fascinating.

  2. After I finished the book, I found myself reminiscing over adventures I had growing up. I hadn't thought of those things in years, and it's given this story a special place in my heart.