Friday, January 17, 2014
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
I'm not sure I have anything new to say about Gaiman's very recent novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but I'll try and say something new anyway.
First, I should be upfront and admit that I haven't read a ton of Gaiman (American Gods, Neverwhere, Stardust, and Coraline), and I am pretty divided about how I feel about his writing. Sometimes it grabs me, sometimes it doesn't. So, when I saw this out at bookstores, I was incredibly hesitant to pick it up.
I finally caved after seeing so many glowing reviews. I'm glad I did because I thoroughly loved this book.
The novels opens with a man returning home after many years away for a funeral. Stifled by being home after so long, he begins to remember things from his youth and a girl who lived down at the end of the lane. As he sits by her old pond, which she called an ocean when they were kids, he begins to remember things from his childhood.
Now, I could tell you about the story itself, but that would ruin it. Instead, I want to talk about the importance of childhood memories. Because as the man begins to remember his childhood and what happened to him, it brought to mind my own memories. As he struggled with the pretty horrific images from his youth, I also thought of things from my own youth-happy and sad. And I wondered, how well do I really remember things from my past? Has my mind, as I've aged, started to change the way I remember events?
That, I think, is the magic of Gaiman's novel. There is a balance there-between the depth and romanticism of our youth with the harsh reality of adulthood. Because as we age, the horrors and monsters we faced as children become something much more real. And we cannot escape inside ourselves-we have to face those monsters and the evils of adulthood!
Ah, there is so much more I could say about the novel itself, but I don't want to spoil it. It's a magical thing that you need to read and experience for yourself.
But trust me, it's a good one.
“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”