The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

posted Feb 16, 2014, 9:21 AM by jj pionke
Let me start off by saying that I adore Neil Gaiman.  I first read his Sandman graphic novels and a love affair was born.  To that end, I found this slim novel to be fantastic and devastating.  There was much in it that struck a hard personal cord.  When the book first came out, I picked it up immediately, delighted by such a treat and then had to put it down within 20 pages because I resonated so strongly with what was being said.  Many months later, along with a move half way across the country, a new job, and a much more balanced approach to life....I picked up the book again. 

I had left the receipt where I had left off so I opened the book to there with a quick skim of the previous pages to remind myself where the novel started.  I read faster and faster, my breath taken away by the rich prose and the strong sense of place and of knowing that Gaiman has.  I was doing great until this line, "I felt safe.  It was as if the essence of grandmotherliness had been condensed into that one place, that one time" (92).  It was like what I imagine being struck by lightening must be like - I was so strongly reminded of a dear and much loved mentor that I burst into tears.  That is the power of Gaiman's writing.  The book is a short exploration of so many issues - being a child, who we are as people in general, the world that we live in, the mysteries of the universe, and mythology.  It can be read on many levels.  I picked up the book last night and finished it last night - just like I used to read when I was a child.  I would sit up under my blanket with my flashlight, long after I was supposed to be asleep and I would read for hours until the story was done - my need to know the ending far outweighing my need for sleep.  Now, as an adult, I value sleep more and so have had to give up reading before bed because I get too excited and then stay up far too late reading....except on Saturdays, when I don't have to be at work the next day.  LOL

I'm glad that I read the book, even with the false start.  It felt good to push myself and to read something that brought me a great deal of pleasure, wonder, and introspection....and I might just start a habit of reading a book on Saturday nights.