Childhood Memories Explored

oceancoverNeil Gaiman’s new novel “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” explores the fabric of memory in such a way as to equate it with myth and legend.  Gaiman’s writing, which I would characterize as a cross between Tim Burton and Alice Hoffman, is always rich with color, texture, scent and sound, but more to the point, he has the ability to weave a new story which feels like an ancient myth.  In this book, a man returns to his childhood home to discover his house has been torn down.  Resting at a neighbor’s house, he begins to remember spectacular events which occurred there during a night when he was about seven years old.  Like Gaiman’s other work, The Graveyard Book, his has the ability to tell a  sophisticated  story through a young boy very convincingly.  Down the lane from his home lives three extraordinary women: Letty, Ginny, and Old Mrs Hempstock, who live a simple farm life, but are capable of miraculous acts.  Old Mrs. Hemptock keeps the full moon hanging over the south side of the house because she likes its light, Letty can carry the ocean in a bucket, and Ginny can sew a rent in the fabric of time.  When a being from another world is accidentally carried into this world and threatens the young hero, Lettie vows to protect him, no matter what.   The fantastical creatures Gaiman imagines are terrible in strange and unexpected ways, yet equally horrific are the events unleashed in the every day world.  The Hempstock women  have the ability to erase events by simply snipping them out of the fabric of an old dressing gown, and likewise can erase bad memories not unlike a scene from Star Wars–“Nothing to see here…”  and suggests an alternate truth. They thereby change memory, not reality.  Or do they?  I confess I do not think I understood all the meanings within this tale, but was able to enjoy it on its most basic level as a good story.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Childhood Memories Explored

  1. Hi! Very good review. I haven’t got around to reading this particular book yet due to so many other books I need to get through. Another distraction was visiting the Edinburgh Book Festival where I attended a talk by Neil Gaiman on his early graphic novel; Sandman. Great blog and love the blog’s name. Frayed is certainly something I feel too often these days.

    • Christopher, Thank you so much for your lovely compliments; i’m so glad you stumbled upon my book review blog. Not too many people are leaving comments, I wonder why? How great to her Gaiman speak in person. I listened to his audio version of “Graveyard” and was stuck by what a talented narrator/speaker he is, as well as writer. Yes, Frayed Dustjackets is my bit of self-referencial humor.

  2. You’re welcome. Gaiman is a great orator and also very funny. He never disappoints and as this was the third year in a row I have attended one of his talks at the Book Festival I am glad about that. I’m surprised at the lack of comments when you have over a hundred followers. Right, I am off to have a proper look around your site.

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