Monday, July 22, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman may be the most respected author moving freely between comics and prose. And although The Ocean at the End of the Lane lacks some of the soaring, epic scope of the Sandman series or American Gods, fans of Gaiman’s previous works will not likely be disappointed by the imagination, insight, and emotional power of this new short novel.

A man returns to his childhood home in Sussex for a funeral and decides to visit the nearby farm of an imaginative girl he knew many years before. While there, he recalls a series of incidents from when he was seven years old that cascaded together to invoke forces, worldly and otherwise, much larger than he could understand.

Gaiman’s narrative unfolds with a strong vein of truth, bolstered both by the unshakeable certainties and the vast, terrifying uncertainties of youth. The book’s genre might be called urban fantasy, or magical realism, or even horror, but most of all the story is about the mutability of memory and how frightening and lonely it can be to be a child in a grown up world. The book is so well-written and poignant, however, that it also cannot help but remind us that adults have not become more knowledgeable so much as we have learned to suppress the fear and awe which may be the greatest wisdom of childhood. This is a spectacular, powerful read from a true modern master.

- Bill Cameron

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