Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

When I was young, I loved scary books.  I even remember being home alone one afternoon while reading Amityville Horror, and being so scared that I had to go sit in my mom’s car in the driveway to finish a chapter.  My fascination with horror was relatively short lived, but in the past year, I’ve picked up a handful of titles veering toward horror, gothic, and the supernatural.  Doctor Sleep (Stephen King), Night Film (Marisha Pessl), Prayer (Philip Kerr), We Have Always Lived In The Castle (Shirley Jackson).  It’s been fun.  With that in mind, I took a stab at Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.  It’s a short tale about a middle-aged man who returns to his hometown for a funeral.  To escape the family for a bit, he wanders to the end of the lane where, by chance, he runs into an old acquaintance. Long forgotten memories of his childhood come flooding back. The bulk of the book takes place within those memories, where, as a 7 year old, he is imperiled by a shadow world that is using his body as a doorway into our world. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is quite moody, though not particularly frightening.  Amazon tells me that it’s geared toward adults, but to me it feels like it’s geared toward the young adult market.  I’ve got no problem with that because Gaiman is an excellent writer and the novel flows along quite nicely. For me the highlight was the frame story.  His middle-aged interactions within the adult world and his grappling with fragmented memories of his past rang true and strong with just the right amount of sadness and melancholy.

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