"Neil Gaiman? Have I heard of Neil Gaiman?" my co-worker asked. Apparently she's a big fan. I read one short story of his a while back. I enjoyed it, but I didn't feel like I got a good sense of him as a writer. Today I started (and finished...) The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I think I can say also that I'm a big fan.
Because I listen to audiobooks, the person reading the story can have a huge impact on the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the narrator, which just happens to be the author as well. There's something about someone reading intelligent script in a British accent...good stuff!
We meet the main character as a middle-aged man visiting a neighborhood where he used to live. The author then transports himself (and us...) back to a time when he's seven-years old. We then see the world through his eyes. It could be a coming-of-age film, and it is, in a way, but when strange things begin to happen to the child, I had to wonder if things were actually happening, or if the narrative is born from the imagination of a boy who loves to read. Personally, I like thinking even well into the book that I don't know everything and the author may be toying with me just a bit.
The book does turn fantastical where the magic systems are not completely explained, but I don't believe the book needed definite explanations. In my opinion, it would muddy things up. And since the story is presented to us from a seven-year old's perspective, we understand what's happening on that level. I thought it was great. It reminded me of a Haruki Murakami story (just not as graphic...), or a Hayao Miyazaki film.
I usually know a little bit about an author when I read something new. This time I just jumped right in. I'm glad I did, but I'll probably do a little research on him. Needless to say, I've put a hold on another of his books at the library.
* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15783514-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane?ac=1