Sunday, 21 July 2013

BOOKS: Childhood, Neil Gaiman and The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Milka and Gaiman makes me remember childhood's joys

The one thing I love about reading Neil Gaiman is how his writing brings back a sense of innocence to my otherwise adult, and therefore cynical, musings.

His latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is slim compared to his other novels but is thankfully bursting with magic.

It opens with a 40 something man going back to his hometown for a funeral. Whose funeral? We never find out and it is not important. He then remembers a girl he meets when he was seven, and the terrible magical events that followed.

Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is often referred to as a close cousin of The Ocean at The End of the Lane. Well, there are common elements there, but even Starlust has something in common with The Ocean at The End of The Lane. I would like to think that these three books would make a great book pack.

I do not really want to write the details of the novel because a client asked me to buy a copy for her and I would not want to spoil her enchanting experience of reading Gaiman. But it is a lovely book, even for a non-Gaiman fan. I have read all of Gaiman's novels, and this is my second favorite Gaiman novel to date, Anansi Boys being on top of the list.

The ocean in the title is actually a pond, but for a child a pond can be an ocean, and a Goddess can be that motherly neighbor who offers you a bowl of delicious porridge. This book perfectly captures how even childhood can sometimes be painful and beautiful. Neil Gaiman is a master of this fairy tale for adults genre. I say, thank God for that! I know I need a dose of the surreal once in a while.

This is my favorite line from the book:
"I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments of hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy."

Which is the apt description on how it feels to read Gaiman's latest book.

If you crave to connect with the kid in you who has been ignored for so long, go read Gaiman's latest book. It made me childishly giddy for days. I promise it's worth your magical reading time.

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