Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (or: I have a huge crush on Neil Gaiman.)

When I was a little girl, I loved my world. I loved the fresh gingerbread the Mrs Piper, old lady down the street, would serve to neighborhood children who came to see the train she set up in her house at Christmas-time. I loved the sun-warmed feel of my brother's broad shoulders, when he carried me piggy back, or the combination smell of starch and cigar that haunted my father's shirts when he hugged me. I loved the sound of a saxophone, when my other brother was practicing, or the way my mother, curled up with a book and a bowl of polly seeds* would scooch over so I could nestle in at her side, cracking the black and white shells for the seed inside.

I love my world now, too. And I love the world Neil Gaiman created in The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

I'd read that this book started as a short story, and couldn't be stopped. It grew. And it grew into a wonderful tale. Some of it, I feel sure, has deep roots in Gaiman's own childhood. The descriptions ring so true. And while I've heard him talk of his childhood, he's not necessarily mentioned magic, but undoubtedly that was present, for is there not a little magic everywhere, for those who care to look? This is a fairy tale -- not the sanitized, politically correct ones that are circulating today, but a real one, with good and bad, hope and fear, monsters and Hempstocks. Yes, Hemstocks. Lizzie Hempstock, who may, or may not be eleven, her mother, and Old Lady Hempstock, who remembers when the moon was made. And these Hempstocks may be distantly related to Daisy Hempstock in Stardust and Liza Hempstock in The Graveyard Book, or so says neilhimself (though in his blog, not twitter.)

Don't  bother me; I'm reading
I happily immersed myself in this small volume, delighted to be reading my favorite author again, his first adult book in ages, while also begging myself to slow down, because the next book, adult or children's, may be a long time coming. But I couldn't help myself. I gobbled it up, and sighed with contentment. He did it again. A wonderful, scrumptious book. The man is an artist, a magician, a teller-of-tales, and if all the accounts I've heard are right, he's altruistic and a truly decent man.

I think I love Neil Gaiman even more than Mrs Piper's gingerbread. And that's saying a whole lot.

Read the book.

* sunflower seeds

No comments:

Post a Comment