In between the seconds and minutes of small moments at work, I read ” The Ocean at the End of the Lane ” by Neil Gaiman. I heard about the book a couple months ago from a blogger I follow and instantly put it on my to-read list. What got me was her review, brief and simple, claiming that she’s never read anything like it before. When the book was chosen for book club this month I was excited for the forced opportunity to start reading it, pushing my other reads aside.
The story is creative. I will try not to give anything away, the main thing I need to talk about is Gaiman’s writing. If you’ve read this book, do you get me? It’s an adult book written by an adult man, but a story narrated by the events of a seven year old. It makes you see through the eyes of a child, and taste yummy foods, and be afraid of monsters, and remember what it feels like to believe in strange things and run behind broken tree houses. It was magical, obscene, strange, and wonderful. To enjoy the book, you need to have that child-like heart to let yourself go back to that place where logic is not King and the world is allowed to not make sense.
The characters in this story are odd. I felt confused as I worked through the first couple chapters because the characters were like none I’ve ever encountered. I had trouble creating a mental image for Ursula and the gray flapping thing. You know how when you read Narnia and Lord of the Rings, you read the descriptions of the characters and you can imagine what they look like? Well the handful of characters/beasts/things in this novel could not relate to anything I have ever read or seen before, it was all new. All creative.
I would highly recommend this book just because it is different. And beyond that, because it will bring you back places, and also bring you to new places, and you will meet things that you have never met before. If you’ve read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts and/or favourite lines in the comment section.
And now, my favourite lines:
“How old are you, really?” … “Eleven.” …” I thought for a bit. Then I asked, “How long have you been eleven for?”
“I remember when the moon was made.”
” The old woman gave me a lump of honeycomb, from the Hempstocks’ own beehive, on a chipped saucer, and poured a little cream over it from a jug. I ate it with a spoon, chewing the wax like gum, letting the honey flow into my mouth, sweet and sticky with an aftertaste of wildflowers.”
“… once I dreamed I kept a perfect little bed-and-breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say…”Be whole,” and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language of shaping.”
“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”
“Adults follow paths. Children explore.”
” I usually liked Mission: Impossible, but this time it made me feel uenasy, as people kept pulling their faces off to reveal new faces beneath.”
” The kitten followed us up the stairs in a sequence of bounces. It made me smile.”
” At that moment, for once in my childhood, I was not scared of the dark…”
” I waited for the night to begin to talk to me again…”
” Could there be candle flames burning under water? There could.”
“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleassure in small things, even as greater things crumbled…I found joy in the things that made me happy.”
“…and I knew I was willing to exchange my life for the world.”
” You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.”