Books-I stash them like I stash my yarn or my fabric. I used to have piles of books. Now they go where I go-in my back pocket--on the ipod
The Graveyard Book-hooked me, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane has reeled me in. It is a book that you should bring with on a camping trip and don't forget the portable speaker so Gaiman can do his magic around the campfire--you will become 7 years old again, and your world transforms. It tugs at you to recall your perspective of adults at that age, the belief in magical beings, and ponds that become oceans. It is a tale you will treasure over and over again.
More than once, I've stated that Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller. In my opinion, he's one of the top storytellers of our time (and maybe the best). The Ocean at the End of the Lane continues that tradition of slightly off-kilter stories where magical, unexplainable things happen to ordinary people. When Gaiman tells the story, I don't doubt anything for a single second. It all seems totally believable - especially when I'm listening to the audiobook and it's coming from his quiet, English accented voice. The Ocean at the End of the Lane has some disquieting parts in them and it's those things that make the story believable. Yes, go buy the book. But I highly recommend the audiobook because when you listen to Gaiman tell a story, magic happens.
On the same note, my friends and I went to see Neil Gaiman in Decatur. We spent hours sitting outside in a blazing hot parking lot waiting but every minute was worth it. His talk was hilarious. I laughed so hard I cried. Plus, I got a snazzy autograph.
Its hard to know what to say about this story, it cuts so close to the bone and touches the heart. When I was in highschool my favorite teacher told me " Art is learning how to see." I keep thinking of that now.
I can't help but wonder what people who have never been afraid of someone who is suppose to care for them, who was never hurt by such a person, will make of this. I can't talk about this more.... listen to the story and maybe you will understand. Its a good story. It is art. Its learning how to see.
On the performance, Neil is the only author who I think does his own books justice.
When it comes to the Hempstocks, picking a favorite would be like trying to pick a favorite child or kitten. You just don't try, though you might sit and marvel at how they differ from one another or how much they are alike.
Sometimes other readers bring a wonderful new aspect to a story. [Try Christina Pickles' reading of "Chivalry" from Selected Shorts or Lenny Henry's reading of "Anansi Boys."] But there are times when Neil is the best one to read his stories. His voice is comforting and gentle, even when the character he's reading is being matter-of-fact or coming to terrible realizations.
It's a funny thing to say that one story or another is more personal to an author. Any story well made is very much its authors, no matter how fantastic and far from autobiographical. This time it seems to be more intimate; that while this isn't autobiographical there's a lot of Neil's own character poured into this narrator.
I'm nearly fifty years old and I don't remember being scared by a book since I was very young. I've been anxious, enthralled, aching with suspense, burning with anticipation, or worried for a character I really liked, but never actually scared. Until this one.
This book scared me. Not because the images of the story felt threatening, but because it made me stop in a public place, look around me, and realize in a vivid way that the world is not always a good place.
It's in a good way—a constructive way. The very best way, because it shares a bit of wisdom and puts you on your guard against it. It's the same kind of fear as you might have of dragons, if you were afraid of dragons, and if you'd also heard Neil tell you G. K. Chesterton's ideas about how dragons can be beaten.
There are no dragons in this book. Not exactly. But maybe more horrible than dragons are the smallest terrors; the almost innocent ones.
There are people who like some of Neil Gaiman's works more than others. Not because the stories are better or worse, but because they're about different sorts of things. Some lean more towards "American Gods" while others are more eager for "Stardust." Still others will like Neil's episodes of "Doctor Who" best, and some will have complete collections of "Sandman" or know by heart which short stories are in which of his collections. [It's hard to think of any authors who have been as successfully prolific in so many different ways.]
What's special about "Ocean at the End of the Lane" is that it will be a book which is best loved by all the different kinds of Neil Gaiman fans. It has the essence that is the best of all his forms, yet is entirely new and takes us to wonderful new places. His craft is the best it has ever been.
"For whatever we lose (a you or a me) It's always ourselves we find in the sea." E.E. Cummings
Old Mrs. Hempstock. She would be a lot of fun, I think.
Letty - immutable and steadfast, but quick to laugh with a warm hand to hold. The best friend every child should have.
This book is beautiful and devastating all at once. At first I thought it was going to be the lush, delicious blanket of warmth Neil Gaiman has served up so well in the past, like in The Graveyard Book. But this is no children's book, not in the least. At one point I found myself shouting at the book in anger; at another point I was driving down the highway with tears streaming down my face.
Obviously I am a huge fan of Mr. Gaiman's, and I highly recommend this book.
Neil Gaiman is a wonderful, creative, evocative writer. I loved listening to this book. His language is magical and creates a world the reader can easily step into. And in the case of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, that world is scary. Is it real? Is it just the tortured memories of a young boy who channeled his real pain, and memories he can't face, into fairy tales and monsters in the dark. Or is it a bit of both.
For me, some aspects of the story were not so subtle hints at child abuse, both physical and emotional, not just normal childhood fears and imaginings. And I felt as if Gaiman abandoned the narrator to many years of neglect and abuse after the story ends. He might have been saved from the evil forces unleashed in the story, but was the narrator rescued from the real forces of pain and neglect he continued lived with? Are the narrator's adult lapses of memory about returning to the pond magical, or are they how the narrator is able to maintain his sanity? When the narrator accuses the evil force of controlling people's actions, she tells him that she didn't make anyone do anything they didn't want to. At that point, I saw the narrator as a child in danger.
Is life as hopeless for all of us as it is or was for the narrator? I hope not. I gave the story only three stars because it left me sad and concerned for a character whom I had come to care for. I know happy endings are a myth but everyone deserves some degree of contentedness. Our narrator still has no one at his birthday party.
Everything, I loved this story. It made me feel all of the wonder and terror of life again that only children can feel.
I compare it to listening to the The Shack, I was so moved and inspired. Both made me think about the the books long after I finished them.
I would rather forget I read this book altogether. There were so many holes in story that the author never fleshed out. The end of the book was NOT rewarding at all which added to my frustration.
I would not have made this a novel but kept it a short story.
I'm not sure.
No I cannot see this as a movie or TV series.
If you really want to read it, check it out at your local library, avoid spending money on this loosely fitted together story and narrative.