Nerd Incognito

The Dad Who Says N.I.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

Let me say from the outset that I hate writing book reviews; the entire process is a tightrope walk between my desire to dissect a work from a literary perspective and the need to give away only the bare minimum, lest I destroy the best moments the work has to offer an unsuspecting reader.

Still, I canít help but want to share the wonder Iíve found with some of the works I encounter through my own reading, and inspire others to look for themselves at some of the needles Iíve found in the literary haystackóso letís get started.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of many Neil Gaiman stories Iíve had the pleasure of encountering. On the surface, it is the tale of a young man who finds the body of a man who had boarded with his parents briefly before deciding to take his own life. That shocking encounter leads the protagonist down the lane to the nearby Hempstock farm, where everything he thought he knew about reality is challenged. Why canít the dugout be an ocean? What if there were other worlds, with other creatures looking for escape and worship? Why wouldnít our protectors be a three-generation female powerhouse, masquerading as just another farm family? Gaiman has a unique way of presenting his material that is extremely engaging, mixing the worlds of myth and legend seamlessly with our own reality, playing with what we know as ďtruth,Ē and yet never losing sight of the characters themselves, and their ongoing development.

Gaiman also has a knack writing in a variety of literary formats, and I have found his novels and short stories to be written with equal skill. The Ocean at the End of the Lane has convinced me that Gaiman can also quite convincingly write novellas, and I canít help but recall of Mitch Albomís compact, wonderful novellas when reading Gaimanís work. Both authors package complex and interesting ideas and characters into tiny worlds that are remarkably simple and straightforward. This is particularly impressive with The Ocean at the End of the Lane, because of its genre; fantasy does not often play well with simple, straightforward worldsóthe magic at the storyís core often encourages complexity and systems of rules to guide its existence. The Ocean at the End of the Lane has only one rule: donít mess with the Hempstock women.

As always, Gaiman sets out to explore what it is to be human, playing with shadows and darkness inside each of us, exploring our fears, and showing us beauty and wonder in the most mundane places. He succeeds brilliantly. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a masterpiece.

You can find The Ocean at the End of the Lane on Amazon at: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane: A Novel

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