Neil Gaiman Week: Book 1, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

"Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world." 

Neil Gaiman writes beautiful books. This is a well known fact generally accepted by most people. And after over ten novels, Gaiman’s style of writing fantasy that isn’t really fantasy at all is also well known. Gaiman writes novels about humans, and human nature, veiled in fun, elegant fantasy. 

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is this formula, but for the first time in a Gaiman book, it’s also vastly different. While reading TOATEOTL, I didn’t feel like I was in an adventure. I didn’t feel like a child being read to, and I didn’t feel like I had been completely transported to a different world, all feelings normal for a Gaiman book.

I felt mesmerized, like I was floating through a space where each scene was shown to me. I felt led, much like the narrator of the book was led, without really knowing what was going on. When you do finally see the whole story for what it is, I realized that it wasn’t what I expected. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is an ocean, not a pond.

Neil Gaiman has a knack for writing books for all ages, and when I started this book, I expected a book for all ages. It’s a beautiful novel, truly, wonderfully, beautiful. The reader is blindsided by the beauty of it. But I also found it was wondrously sad. Gaiman writes a child’s story that relaxes you at the start, and slowly, as it ages, becomes steadily more terrifying. Things don’t work out, things end. While reading, you think that it’s about the wonder of childhood and the perfection of it all, and then you step away and realize that this wonder is lost and buried in all of us. That every breath of this novel can’t last, simply because we’re adults and will eventually turn the last page. 

This book is about childhood and adulthood. It’s about the sacrifices made for us and the sacrifices that we make. It’s about how sometimes these sacrifices aren’t equal, and maybe when we least expect it, they are. It’s terrifying and beautiful, and I don’t think I wanted to be shown it all at once. It’s kind of like looking at the sun. 

But it’s also about magic, and the old, and witches that aren’t witches. It’s about birds and fleas, dads and babysitters. It’s about books, and friendships. At a time where I, and many readers, are finding themselves straddling the gap between adulthood and childhood, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane acts as both; a book to remind us of our childhood, and a friend to show us we’re not alone.

Recommendation: Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. An absolute must read.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION! SHAMELESS PROMOTION! SHAMELESS PROMOTION!

I bought this book at BOSWELL BOOKS on the East Side of Milwaukee. They are one of the only independent book stores in Milwaukee, and they are AMAZING. They are great to their customers, all the staff are fantastic book lovers, who give great conversations and recommendations. Support these guys, because THEY ARE WORTH IT! 

Boswell Books website: http://boswell.indiebound.com

Ro

Neil Gaiman Is In My Head

I have had the pleasure of hearing Neil read his work in real life three times. This is wonderful.

I now only hear Neil in my head when I’m reading his books. This is…also wonderful.

(Ro is posting things early. I promise to stop now.)

GET EXCITED EVERYONE!

WE ARE HAVING NEIL GAIMAN WEEK NEXT WEEK!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Yes, yes. Very exciting.

I am reading/reviewing The Ocean At The End Of The Lane and Smoke and Mirrors. I will also be making shameless promotions for local bookstore, Boswell Books.

Dylan is reading/reviewing Stardust and American Gods. They also have some other non-Gaiman books set up for review, which I’m pretty pumped for.

YAYYY! Get excited everybody.

Ro

Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall.

Is it as cool as it looks?

FUCK YES IT IS!!!!

This book was so fucking awesome. I love zombies, and enjoy even the cheapest of zombie movies, but I’m telling you, this book was stellar. Great zombies, great plot, good twists, chocked full of science fiction, and funny to boot. I’m not a Trekkie/er. I love science fiction, and I’ve seen some old and new Star Trek, but one of the best parts about this book was you didn’t need to know Star Trek to be entertained. The book really appeals to all nerds of all fashions- horror lovers and science fiction lovers alike.

Recommendation: BUY THIS BOOK NOW IT’S SO GOOD I LOVED IT OH MY GOD YESSSSSSS.

Ro

Coming off of my last review, I wanted a quick, romper room sort of read. Hell by Robert Olen Butler, doesn’t exactly offer that, but it does offer almost everything I wanted Was to be. It’s a tour through modern day hell, and hell isn’t quite how Dante described it. This book wasn’t quite laugh out loud funny, but the irony running through builds to a steady laugh track, especially with familiar faces, such as Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.

It’s a slow burn, but Hellis totally worth it. The main character’s fight with his humanity is one I steadily found myself relating to. My final message: Humans are awful, terrible creatures, and I love them all.

Recommendation: Totally worth the read!

Ro

Finished two books up north! Going to update soon.

Oz is, after all, only a place with flowers and birds and rivers and hills. Everything is alive there, as it is here if we care to see it. Tomorrow, we could all decide to live in a place not much different from Oz. We don’t. We continue to make the world an ugly, even murderous place, for reasons we do not understand.

Those reasons lie in both fantasy and history. Where we are gripped by history — our own personal history, our country’s history. Where we are deluded by fantasy — our own fantasy, our country’s fantasy. It is necessary to distinguish between history and fantasy wherever possible.

And then use them against each other.

Geoff Ryman, Was. (via embfitz)

Let me preface this review with a comment: I LOVED Geoff Ryman’s book, 253. It’s stellar, creative, moving. So, I was pretty surprised when Was, well…wasn’t. The above quote sums up the entire book: Fantasy isn’t real. Real life is cold and harsh and sucky, and Ryman’s point just ends there. He states it in the first chapter and the novel doesn’t progress from there. You can’t get attached to the characters because they start sad and end sad and there’s stagnant sadness in between. 

Recommendation: Bummer. Go read 253 or an autobiography of Judy Garland.

Coming Soon!!! !!! !!!

I picked up a bunch of cheesy horror books from the used bookstore, PLUS: I HAVE THE NEW NEIL GAIMAN BOOK!!!!!! I’m going up north, but I’ll try to post regularly.

Peace!

Ro

Ro here! My first book for the summer: Was by Geoff Ryman. It’s a character story centering around The Wizard of Oz. I read some Ryman last summer and loved it. (EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ 253).

So far this is slow to move and a little uninteresting, BUT Ryman starts slow. So we’ll see.


Trying to Save Piggy Sneed by John Irving

I have some experience with reading John Irving so I know that I have no clue what to expect going into this book. It is an amassment of his short stories, including three memoirs and - most notable to me - his author notes. I’m excited for the first read, and excited to share the first review.
Also by John Irving
A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989)
The World According to Garp (1978)
The Cinder House Rules (1985)
The Fourth Hand (2001)
[x]

Trying to Save Piggy Sneed by John Irving

I have some experience with reading John Irving so I know that I have no clue what to expect going into this book. It is an amassment of his short stories, including three memoirs and - most notable to me - his author notes. I’m excited for the first read, and excited to share the first review.

Also by John Irving

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989)
  • The World According to Garp (1978)
  • The Cinder House Rules (1985)
  • The Fourth Hand (2001)

[x]