Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'The Ocean at the End of the Lane' - Matty Jacobson


I didn't realize I was such a huge Neil Gaiman fan until I realized two books I'd read that resonated with me profoundly, "Good Omens" and "Stardust," were both authored or co-authored by him.

So I recently went on a Neil Gaiman binge session, reading anything he's written. I've gotten through almost his entire collection of full stories. And one of the best, I think, Is his most recent: "The Ocean at the End of the Lane."

True to form, Gaiman doesn't skimp on the awesome and wondrous elements that make his stories so unmistakably his. Like so many of his other books, "The Ocean" begins rooted in a very gray and unimportant place.

The story follows a man who returns to his childhood home. He begins to reminisce about being a boy, and he suddenly starts remembering some very interesting details about his life. He remembers Lettie Hempstock, the girl who lived in the farmhouse with her mother and grandmother just down the street.

He remembered the pond on their property that Lettie called her "ocean." He also began remembering things like the mysterious coin that choked him in the middle of the night, and Ursula Munkton, the woman hired to look after him and his sister.

There is no shortage of magic in this book. There is also no shortage of sadness. "Ocean" offers a glimpse into the heart of a loving young boy and how he perceives family, friends and enemies. It also offers a glimpse at the melancholy reality that most of us grow up to face, and how even the most wonderful and magical things in life can so easily be forgotten.

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