Anticipating Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

So, like nearly every other nerd in book-land, I am having trouble containing my excitement for Neil Gaiman’s new adult novel, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, which comes out on June 18th.  No one’s let on exactly what the plot is, but I’m happy about that because I want to dive into those pages with no preconceived notions and just let Gaiman do his stuff.  Most interviews have been vague enough to drum up interest without spoiling anything, much to my happiness, and I think that Gaiman is very conscious of his huge fan base’s desire to be newly enchanted.


He recently mentioned this Star Tribune review on facebook, and said, “I think this is my favourite review so far. It does not talk about the plot, it talks about the book.”  If this review is at all accurate – and I imagine it is – then June 18th needs to be here right freakin’ now!

“Move closer and you’ll notice folkloric grace notes: An unnamed narrator learns the importance of naming, familiar nursery rhymes are reconsidered and made mythic. Magic comes slowly into the story, and it arrives as easily as breathing. When a perfectly sensible character says that she remembers when the moon was made, you will believe her. You won’t actually have a choice.”

—From’s review of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

Now I am even more excited to read the book, because what they’ve described is my favorite kind of magic.  Small, fatally important rules and traditions which have lived inside of us for centuries: that sort of power impresses me more than any grand summoning of a demon or tempest.  If Gaiman has indeed written about a form of magic so naturally inherent to his story that it sneaks up on us without drawing attention to itself (and I’m sure he has because he can do just about anything), then The Ocean At The End Of The Lane might even replace American Gods and Good Omens at the top of my food chain of books.

I guess as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more desperate to find magic in the real world to keep my hope alive, and that’s why folklore and superstition have been occupying my mind more than “high” fantasy these past few years.   The smallest shifts in our world, the secret of my name, the truths other people might be hiding: these have been magical since ancient times and they’re just as magical now.  I’m so glad that authors like Jane Yolen and Charles De Lint have kept those stories alive, and unbearably excited that Neil Gaiman has added those elements into his new novel for adults.  There is hope where there is magic, and there is magic while Neil Gaiman exists!

Thoughts, anyone?  Are you excited about The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, or do you think it’s being over-hyped?  

Are you going to see Gaiman at one point on his signing tour for the book?  (Did you think I wrote “singing” tour, there, instead of “signing”?  He actually has a great voice.)

Do you prefer small-scale magic or big, dramatic fantasy?


7 thoughts on “Anticipating Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

  1. I am not sure if I am excited about Ocean at the End of the Lane or scared. I think I have more fear at what was wrought from the Master’s pen than excitement. You see, as a writer, Neil Gaiman’s next book may just challenged everything I know about writing and characters and plot. So, with trepidation I will read it. I will have to read it. But if it blows me away, I will become obsessed with unearthing the technique. I won’t be able to just sit back and enjoy it as a reader. Sounds awful I know but its true. The other side of that is learning. Which is always good.

    I have gone to see him twice. Once in Chicago after the release of The Graveyard Book. And then again in Montreal at World Con. I don’t think I will go again mainly because I would want to talk to him and I don’t think that is going to happen. In Montreal you had to win a raffle to talk to him. If I thought I would be able to talk to him, I would be there in a New York Minute. Sometimes I have dreams where he and I meet for coffee, but then I wake up. So…

    All magic has it’s place, but I suppose I prefer subtle magic that verges on coincidence and science or I should say explained phenomena. In the 80’s we all sort of glutted on fire balls and Ethereal spells. Back then it was something to behold a character turn all the monsters to stone and we read spellbound at the power wielded by great Magic Users like Raistlin Mejere from the Dragon Lance Saga. But I think the fashions changed and today we want to see more “real” magic that verges on the ordinary. In Name of the Wind the magic system is so well thought out, I felt I could practice it after reading about. It was pretty “real.”

    • I totally have the same fears! I think it’s impossible to read the work of someone you admire without comparing it to your own writing and wondering if/how you should adapt your style. I sometimes find myself thinking in Neil Gaiman’s voice (his literary voice AND his accent, which is so good for storytelling) and have to remind myself to stay true to my own voice whenever I write.

      I got to meet him in Boston once, at the New Years Eve show Amanda Palmer did with the Boston Pops where he read the beautiful “may your coming year be filled with magic and dreams… surprise yourself” speech, and he was so nice even though I made an absolute IDIOT of myself in front of him. I always do that to authors and artists I love… But it’s true that there are always so many devoted fans at each event it would be impossible for him to have a real conversation with all of them without exhausting himself to death, and none of us would wish that I hope!

      I haven’t read The Name Of The Wind yet, but I really want to! A friend gave it to me for my birthday and I’m saving it for next winter, because I tend to like serious fantasy books best when the nights are long and the weather is cold. One of my friends hated the book but some others liked it, so I’m trying to keep an open mind. Everyone agrees that the magic is pretty near genius, though, so I can’t wait to see what you all mean.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • I don’t know why, but I always think I’m the “only one” when it comes to these things. People–muggles? Non writers say, “don’t be jealous!” and such things when I ever talk about it. I don’t know if it’s jealousy, professional envy maybe. But it happens. Anne Rice will do it to me too. I get wow’ed and then, I’m delving for the technique, wondering why I didn’t see it, and trying to “top it” or at least “do it.”

        Since, we’re sharing Neil stories, I have one. So, I went to Montreal to see him and I could not even get a book signed by him. I was standing in line and and then found out, I didn’t have a ticket and when the tickets run out, sorry dude, no more autographs. So…I was determined. He was getting an award for Grave Yard book so afterwards there were parties everywhere. Well, I found the “party within the party.” And slipped in on accident and guess who was down there? So, I kept inching closer and closer and (my friend bailed on me by this point and so I was alone and had this whole plan) I was going to reach out my hand and introduce myself to Neil Gaiman. He had just been an instructor at Clarion so his whole Clarion class was down there too and I think I got within two yards of him (6 feet…two meters or thereabouts) and stopped. I had this thought “And what is he going to do for my career?”

        You see, it was all about me trying to get connections and there simply was nothing he could do, even if he wanted to, which I am sure he wouldn’t.

        I turned around and left. I could not answer that question. Truth was only I can do anything for my career. All I was going to do was embarrass myself by being the weird guy who wanted to talk to Neil.

        So, that’s my big Neil story. Afterwards I became more self reliant, so that’s good.

        On Name of the Wind, I didn’t really like that book. I liked the magic system, so I guess it was worth it because of that. But I found the character full of himself–like always bragging about all his exploits which I didn’t find all that amazing and the story was soooo slow. Man. The guy Qvoth–or however you spell it, didn’t seem to do anything. Well, he went to school…so maybe that was the appeal. The academia of it all. So, I am not going to do the next one. There again, i feel like an alien because most people love it so. But then I read China Meiville, so there.

        BTW, I envy you for being English–unless you’re an American girl going to school over there, but probably not. Anyway, the English have the advantage. 1) American’s don’t know English. You probably know that though. So, I had to learn it again. I mean, really, when it comes to writing their natural bent is flat. 2) When you speak in America everyone goes gaga for the English accent. Don’t believe it? Neil is my example and don’t think for a minute he doesn’t know it. I sold jewelry with a Limey a while back and all the ladies swooned when he said things like “Well, hello dear!” and “No, no, darling, try it on, we want you to have fun here!” He wasn’t gay, he was English!

        Then all the best artists are English…let me count the ways: The Beetles, Queen, Piers Anthony, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, China Meiville…on and on.

        Anyway, such a nice chat here. I have to ask you…and because you’re so fond of tea and you do book reviews, would you be interested in doing a review on my novella The Demon of Montreal? I can send you a free ecopy of course. It’s published by a little house called Damnation Books. Its a wonderful gothic horror story that I describe thusly: “It’s like V for Vendetta and the phantom of the opera getting together for a retelling of Clive Baker’s Books of Blood over a pot of extra strength Earl Grey tea.”

        And no, I didn’t just make that up…the tea part I mean.
        No pirates, but legend and myth and real world history and of course, it’s set in Montreal. From World Con.

        If you don’t have the time or inclination, no worries. No problem at all. But if you do, I can email you the book.

        Listen, love chatting with you. Look forward to hearing from you again soon.

      • Michael —

        I’m impressed at your tenacity to sneak into the after party! If nothing else, at least you know you’re a good literary spy of sorts… And if it left you with a better understanding of your own writing thought process, then it was an adventure worth having, I’d say!

        Your complaints about The Name Of The Wind are very similar to my friend’s opinion, so now I definitely know what I’ll be looking out for when I read the book. I have two Meville books to read this summer, so the sense I’m getting (from both of you again, you guys must have similar tastes) is that I should start on those first.

        I must admit, I’m actually an American! I live and studied in Scotland, but I’m actually about to return to New England for the foreseeable future, much to my eternal woe. I’ve had a good chance to read a ton of British literature while I was here – from a course on translating Medieval Scottish texts all the way to contemporary British fiction – so I like to think that I’ve absorbed some of that influence into my own relationship with language. But, compared to my friends here, I’m sometimes *that* American who pronounces “advertisements” wrong and can’t understand the use of “inverted commas”. Though I do worry that I might feel just as out of place back in the USA, as though I will never speak properly wherever I am.

        I’d love to read your book, though I’ve got such a queue of books to review that I might not be able to do a post on it until well into the summer. If that’s ok with you, though, please send it over! (I have a kobo e-reader, which reads e-pubs.) I’ve never read Barker’s Books of Blood, but I do love his writing style and paintings, and the other influences you listed are exactly my cup of tea. (Ugh, a pun. Sorry.) Gothic horror stories have been turning up in a lot of my reading, lately, so you’ve asked at the perfect time. I look forward to reading it.

        Thanks for your comments!

  2. Pingback: Bad Habits and Edinburgh | Bookshelf Pirate

  3. Damn it, I never saw your reply to my story about the party I snuck into! And I was just surfing around tonight and came across your blog again. I really don’t know what happened. We were having such a nice chat and then, the whole thing disappeared and…I have no idea.

    New England? I spent last winter there, selling jewelry at Costco’s. Connecticut, New York, Mass. Though, there were a lot of heartbreaking occurrences going on in that area then, like Sandy Hook.

    Where are you from and are you back there now?

    I would love to email you my book, if you still want to read it. What is your email address?

    Did you read those China Meiville books?

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