30 August, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Land by Neil Gaiman [Paul, Birkenhead Library]

Not even a National Radio's dj could blunt an enthusiastic review of this book. Yeah, its that good. It's a bit like Coraline, though I suppose fans of Gaiman will find many points of contact with his many other works. Which is just to say, all mimsy are his borogroves.

I've heard some discussion of TOATEOTL being not quite categorisable as fantasy, being lodged somewhere-nowhere within fantasy, folklore, fairytale, mythology, allegory & whatevery. Proll this feeling comes about because Gaiman doesn't do what a lot of fantasy writers do and lard his story up with frothy terminologies, and nomenclatures and social cladistics and so-what the fuddly-diddly. He just - or should that be "just" - tells the story. It helps I suppose, to have a narrator who is a tad bewildered about what is going on; or to be fair, a middle-aged man looking back to something weird that happened to him when he was a child.

Hey, we've all been there.

Did I say weird? I mean too unbelievable for words, though notably Gaiman has a knack for knocking out choice phrases some of which I was going to quote you only I put the book down and somebody else picked it up. This is because other librarians are devious. Anyway, if you're automatically repelled by the very thought of fantasy don't be put off, for though there's a few elements that'll probably get worked up in the sequels, graphic novel spin-offs and movie adaptations, and assorted plastic nic-nacs, tea-towels, bic pens and ipod stickers here it's all mimsy are his-

Oh wait I think I've said that, which is sort of just to say the story has this very odd relationship to time, being both timeless and yet not, being as it is, as I almost said, rooted in and routed through one man-boy's regrets. So there's archetypes, and unique individuals, and things happen only once - only they're mythic as well.

It's a box of paradoxes that might invoke paroxysms in lesser minds, but no doubt has you musing on your place in the universe with a humility that is really quite fetching.

Love the ocean.

Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2013
Publisher: Headline

 - Paul, Birkenhead Library

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