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The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel (Paperback)
How much do you remember of your childhood? Do you remember the people who lived around you, the dysfunctions of your family, the brief but terrifying expeditions into other worlds? Our unnamed narrator doesn’t – until, deeply into middle age, he attends a funeral and finds himself following a long, winding lane back to the place he grew up, where his childhood home has been turned into prefab houses. The farm next door, however, remains, and upon entering the house looking for an old friend, our narrator is plunged into the past, into memories that have remained hidden for the entirety of his adult life.
This perfect little fairytale is pretty short, clocking in at just under 200 pages, but is powerful for its size. Gaiman perfectly encapsulates the overwhelming nature of childhood: wiser and more intuitive than the adults surrounding you, and yet in no position to do anything about it. It’s a completely different kind of story, melding the wonders of ancient folk tales and scientific myth. I read this book every October to ring in the soft misty autumns I crave, imagining myself alongside Lettie Hempstock and our narrator as they battle an interdimensional entity determined to shred its way into our reality. Every October I am newly enamored with Gaiman’s grasp of language (and his mouthwatering descriptions of farm-fresh dinners!); he builds a world that feels soft-edged, sleepy, and nostalgic, like a film photo of your childhood home, taken in the hazy hours before the day begins.
Grace, Longfellow Books— From Grace Recommends!
July 2013 Indie Next List
“Gaiman is a magnificent storyteller, creating scenes so complete that you aren't just reading, but rather inhabiting a universe that's thoroughly believable yet truly otherworldly. The story's terror -- the claustrophobia and vulnerability of childhood, the way a child's wants, needs, and fears go unnoticed by adults, and the horrors that can result -- is perfectly balanced against the consolation of books, the magic of the natural world, and the power of those who do listen, understand, and take action to set the universe to rights at whatever cost to themselves. Painful and wonderful, gorgeous and horrifying, truly fantastic, essential and classic, this is a book to return to again and again.”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI
#1 New York Times Bestseller
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman, a haunting novel that explores the awesome power of memory, friendship, and sacrifice―one of ten classic Gaiman works repackaged with elegant original watercolor art by acclaimed artist Henry Sene Yee
"A novel about the truths—some wonderful, some terrible—that children know and adults do not.” —Time Magazine
Returning to his childhood home to attend a funeral, a middle-aged man is drawn back to a place once alive with monsters and magic; to a past where the impossible is all too frighteningly real . . .
A haunting meditation on memory, wonder, friendship, and sacrifice, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which was named “Book of the Year” by the UK National Book Awards, is a groundbreaking triumph of storytelling as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of books for children and adults whose award-winning titles include Norse Mythology, American Gods, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), Coraline, and The Sandman graphic novels. Neil Gaiman is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR and Professor in the Arts at Bard College.
“[W]orthy of a sleepless night . . . a fairy tale for adults that explores both innocence lost and the enthusiasm for seeing what’s past one’s proverbial fence . . . Gaiman is a master of creating worlds just a step to the left of our own.” — USA Today on The Ocean at the End of the Lane
“Remarkable . . . wrenchingly, gorgeously elegiac. . . . [I]n The Ocean at the End of the Lane, [Gaiman] summons up childhood magic and adventure while acknowledging their irrevocable loss, and he stitches the elegiac contradictions together so tightly that you won’t see the seams.” — Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on The Ocean at the End of the Lane
“Gaiman has crafted an achingly beautiful memoir of an imagination and a spellbinding story that sets three women at the center of everything. . . .[I]t’s a meditation on memory and mortality, a creative reflection on how the defining moments of childhood can inhabit the worlds we imagine.” — Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI)
“His prose is simple but poetic, his world strange but utterly believable—if he was South American we would call this magic realism rather than fantasy.” — The Times (London) on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
“Poignant and heartbreaking, eloquent and frightening, impeccably rendered, it’s a fable that reminds us how our lives are shaped by childhood experiences, what we gain from them and the price we pay.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[A] compelling tale for all ages . . . entirely absorbing and wholly moving.” — New York Daily News on The Ocean at the End of the Lane
“[A] story concerning the bewildering gulf between the innocent and the authoritative, the powerless and the powerful, the child and the adult. . . . Ocean is a novel to approach without caution; the author is clearly operating at the height of his career.” — The Atlantic Wire on The Ocean at the End of the Lane
“Ocean has that nearly invisible prose that keeps the focus firmly on the storytelling, and not on the writing. . . . This simple exterior hides something much more interesting; in the same way that what looks like a pond can really be an ocean.” — io9
“This slim novel, gorgeously written, keeps its talons in you long after you’ve finished.” — New York Post on The Ocean at the End of the Lane
“In Gaiman’s latest romp through otherworldly adventure, a young boy discovers a neighboring family’s supernatural secret. Soon his innocence is tested by ancient, magical forces, and he learns the power of true friendship. The result is a captivating read, equal parts sweet, sad, and spooky.” — Parade on The Ocean at the End of the Lane
“’The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ is fun to read, filled with his trademarked blend of sinister whimsy. Gaiman’s writing is like dangerous candy—you’re certain there’s ground glass somewhere, but it just tastes so good!” — Bookish (Houston Chronicle book blog)
“The impotence of childhood is often the first thing sentimental adults forget about it; Gaiman is able to resurrect, with brutal immediacy, the abject misery of being unable to control one’s own life.” — Laura Miller, Salon
“[W]ry and freaky and finally sad. . . . This is how Gaiman works his charms. . . . He crafts his stories with one eye on the old world, on Irish folktales and Robin Hood and Camelot, and the other on particle physics and dark matter.” — Chicago Tribune on The Ocean at the End of the Lane
“When I finally closed the last page of this slim volume it was with the realization that I’d just finished one of those uncommon perfect books that come along all too rarely in a reader’s life.” — Charles DeLint, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction on The Ocean at the End of the Lane