Books: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I could say a lot about this book, but it would require so much backstory that it's hardly worth it. Sufficient, I think, to say that I once really liked Mr. Gaiman's work, and I still do mostly like it, but there is something not quite right now. And that goes deeper, and it goes to that backstory, and I'm not willing to plumb that depth at the moment, at least not in a book post.

Some day I'll write my own book. Except that will get me caught.

As for The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it is a very visceral story that slips a little now and then. It gets a lot of things right and a few things wrong but is a good story anyway. And though it is about a child, it is not a story for children. There are too many nightmares in it for that.

Every writer writes from experience, real or imagined; every story is autobiography to a point. And writers, they tend to suspect things, and they write to test their theories. They poke at boundaries to see what gives. They poke at themselves, at their skins. Is it a bruise or a scar? It's a bruise if it still hurts, a scar if it doesn't.

That's really as much as you need to know about this book. That it's about a seven-year-old boy whose life intersects with the supernatural doesn't tell you much of anything. That's any and every child in the world, really; they intersect with the supernatural all the time and don't think much of it because it's so common. And then many grow up and forget it, but some don't. And some spend all their adult years trying to go back and find that nexus. Sometimes they can, sometimes they can't.

Don't look at the boy in the book, then. He's just a boy. He's meant to distract you from what's really happening. Reality is leaking out the page edges. Sticky, messy truth disguised as fiction. Because truth is stranger than fiction, as they say, and fiction is merely an attempt to tidy up reality. This book doesn't. It tries to contain something that can't be contained. Words are powerful, yes, but not strong enough for this.

Still, Mr. Gaiman makes a nice attempt. It's a good book, maybe better for failing to bottle things than if it had succeeded.

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