Bookmarks: Magic memories
The most recent novel by the one and only Neil Gaiman, begins with, “Memories were waiting at the edges of things, beckoning to me.”
Gaiman has a talent for writing stories that engulf his readers, and “Ocean at the End of the Lane” is no exception.
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home for a funeral, only to be subconsciously pulled to the farmhouse “at the end of the lane.”
There, his repressed memories of a mysterious guardian, her family as well as the evil they fought off to save his life are let loose.
These guardians, Lettie Hempstock, her mother and grandmother are ancient beings that have inhabited the earth since it began, and by using their secrets and magic, keep “varmints” at bay.
The Hempstock women save him as a child when he becomes a victim of the “varmints,” and further save his soul by removing painful memories from his mind unless he is close to the farmhouse.
What readers need to keep in mind is that this surreal story is told through the eyes of a child who has seen more than an adult could understand and who holds a secret that carries the weight of the universe.
Ultimately, it is a story about a child’s memory and interpretation of truth while also coping with a suppressed loss. We never find out what that loss was because that is not the plot of “Ocean.”
The narrator comes to grips with these memories through the coping mechanism of a child’s misunderstandings of an adult’s life events.
As the narrator says at the beginning of “Ocean,” “childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good.”
The story grabs you by the heart, gives it a vicious twist, then releases and concludes with a solid ending that gently places you back in reality.
“Ocean” is a quick escape into a believable fantasy world in a way only Neil Gaiman can provide.