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... read more
A man on his way to his sister's house goes down memory lane. He stops at a few places where he grew up and remembers a time in his seven year old childhood. He comes back to the present and realized he spent a good part of the day at the pond his friend called the ocean. Then he continues his... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
A man on his way to his sister's house goes down memory lane. He stops at a few places where he grew up and remembers a time in his seven year old childhood. He comes back to the present and realized he spent a good part of the day at the pond his friend called the ocean. Then he continues his trip.
The story is a flashback to one particular summer during the narrator's childhood, and explores the tricks of memory, of how our recollection of events from our childhood become colored (grayed out?) as we grow older. In a way the handling of the material brought to mind Kazuo Ishiguro's writings, but in a beautifully Neil Gaiman style.
The Hempstock family carries echoes of the furies ( Gaiman's recurrent fascination with the Furies could be seen in his celebrated Sandman series), or may additionally reference the 'Triple Goddess' - Maiden/Mother/Crone.
The villain is a creature far from her land, and (in true Gaiman style) cannot be marked as truly evil, there are too many shades of gray.
At the end of the book, as the narrator leaves the enchanted grounds of the Hempstock house, he once again leaves behind the true memories of what had happened there, as he goes back to his normal life.
“Peas baffled me. I could not understand why grown-ups would take things that tasted so good when they were freshly-picked and raw, and put them in tin cans, and make them revolting.”
“I liked myths. They weren't adult stories and they weren't children's stories. They were better than that. They just were.”
“I'm going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”Lettie Hempstock
“I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.”Narrator
“All monsters are scared. That's why they're monsters.”
“I liked myths. They weren't adult stories and they weren't children's stories. They were better than that. They just were.”Narrator
“Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren't.”
“Different people remember things differently, and you'll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not.”
“Adults should not weep, I knew. They did not have mothers who would comfort them.”
“That's the trouble with living things. Don't last very long. Kittens one day, old cats the next. And then just memories. And the memories fade and blend and smudge together.”
“Growing up, I took so many cues from books. They taught me most of what I knew about what people did, about how to behave. They were my teachers and my advisers.”
“I was a normal child. Which was to say, I was selfish and I was not entirely convinced of the existence of things that were not me, and I was certain, rock-solid, unshakably certain, that I was the most important thing in creation.”Narrator
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