Upon finishing my reread of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I am pretty sure it is my favorite book of his. And I suspect that is because I have absolutely no clue what to make of it.
It is an absolutely fantastic story, in every sense of the word. But despite all the maiden-mother-crone triple goddesses, all the weird and wonderful and very evil things that happen, I cannot help but feel that there must be so many layers that you have to peel back before you get to the story’s true meaning. Layers all the way down. When you read, say, Neverwhere, you know it’s all, well, made up. Ocean is nothing like that.
She goes on to say that for this book, he turned the blender down a lot, and that that was hard for him to do. But know this does not bring the story behind the story within reach. In his 2012 Zena Sutherland lecture, What the [Very Bad Swearword] Is a Children’s Book Anyway?, Gaiman acknowledges that this is a very personal, nearly autobiographical story:
It is a book. A glorious, uplifting and satisfying book, that does not really give you any answers as to what it really is about. Do I want to know? Bet your ass I do. But also, no.
Neil Gaiman — The Ocean at the End of the Lane
It was only a duck pond, out at the back of the farm.
“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”
“The dread had not left my soul. But there was a kitten on my pillow, and it was purring in my face and vibrating gently with every purr, and, very soon, I slept.” (😻)