Boy! Have I been excited about this one?
Neil Gaiman, another one of my favourite authors announced the release of his new book a few months ago, and the Heavens have seen Disney and I discuss it over Facebook (now that law school is done with, what option do we have?). Of course, most of these painstaking discussions were about how to procure it. Pre-ordering the book was out of question: Flipkart indicated it was Out of Stock (?), HomeShop18 didn’t know who Neil Gaiman was and Amazon India has just began its business (who am I kidding? It was overpriced!). Also, I won’t buy ebooks unless it’s my last resort. Anyhow, Disney found it on one of the websites we usually scavenge – and that’s not the great part! She found it on the day it released. YAAY. So I read it that day itself, and I couldn’t be happier. This man kills me everytime he publishes something new.
The summary goes like this:
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark, from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.
His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
And my FB status message after reading it goes like this:
Neil Gaiman, Why, WHY would you write a story so magical, so comforting, so fantastic in one seventy eight pages only? 178 pages, what were you thinking? You absolutely adorable curly-haired storyteller man, you! Now I cannot pick up another book and you have me running around the empty house, panicking and shaking my fists at boxes of Quaker Oats!
Yes, the book is actually a teeny-tiny book-let, a novella, if you may. One hundred and seventy eight pages ONLY. I was upset when I finished it. Not, because it was bad, nosir! But because it was sooo good that I didn’t want it to end. I mean, he writes after aeons and I finish the book in less than two hours; that is so not done!
Anyhow, the book is magical, to say the least. When you start reading it, the story sort of unfolds itself quietly and even before you know it, it has crept up inside you. It was like a bridge between childhood and growing up. As you begin reading it, you might feel like it is a book for children, but Gaiman is intelligent: he knows there is really no difference between children and adults!
The narrator is a young boy who is now a grown-up, and the story is through the eyes of his seven-year-old self – reticent, wary-of-the-world, lover-of-books, one who isn’t too upset that noone comes to his birthday party but is appalled by the idea that someone else is living in his room! Much like me. And so much changes for this unnamed narrator one night.
There’s so much I want to say about this book. But it would be wrong. Just violating to all the other readers who are waiting for this one. All that is left to say is that the story will stay with me, like an unfinished song. 🙂
P.S. – There are so many quotable quotes in the book but I’ve decided which ones are my favourite.
“I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.”
“Books were safer than other people anyway.”
“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”