The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Mary Poppins from Hell… or some other dimension.

It’s Neil Gaiman, what’s not to love? Bit of surreal urban fantasy, but in the English countryside (rural fantasy?). Pairs well with Neverwhere and Fairy Tale. Made me think of my own childhood. Not because I was terrorized by an otherworldly nanny, but the exploration and perspective it conveys.

Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.

Nameless Protagonist of The Ocean at the End of the Lane

As a 7-year old in Tucson, Arizona, I would walk through the desert to get anywhere. Anywhere being desert hideouts or friends’ houses. Unless I was on a bike, that was what roads and sidewalks were for. When on foot, I wandered around poking at barrel cactus fruit while trying to not get my finger caught on its hooked needles, looking for lizards to catch, keeping an ear open for the almost mythical rattle of a copperhead. It was the more interesting way to go.

I probably should have listened to the audiobook version, which Neil narrates. If I could set Siri to sound like Neil Gaiman, I would. His narrations are a like wearing a comfy sweater.