Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane review, and some other things.

I actually finished this book a while ago, but things, as they always are, are a little hectic. Anyway, here's my review along with some more updates. 

I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane in two sittings in two days. It's not a terribly long book, but still, that alone is a sign of how much I enjoyed the novel. I'm not going to give any spoilers, but there are some in the link I post below to Gaiman's NPR interview. 

It reads almost like a kids tale, and that's because it follows the life of a seven year old through some fantastical events. But it's not a children's book (In an interview with NPR, Gaiman said one of the primary reasons this book is a book geared for adults is because it isn't about hope, but instead helplessness). 

This book could be described as a folk tale for adults—something Gaiman is well known for and I am happy to read more of. One of the things I like most about this work is Neil's ability to subtly write about the abnormal. When something strange or unusual occurs, it's done in such a way that you often don't realize you've stepped into the fantastical side of fiction—much like when a song gets stuck in your head that, as you think of it, you realize was playing in the background at the grocery store. 

Also, the book has depth, but I have a hard time explaining that quality. There were many moments when I would stop and think I just understood something deeper, only to find that I can't recall what it was I just thought I understood.  When I try to reread it to again experience that emotion, I discover something new altogether. And any book that creates this kind of reading experience is one I consider worth reading. 

If you're curious, I felt that, in comparison to Gaiman's other work, this novel is somewhat like The Graveyard Book, and especially like his short story When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, Age 11 1/4, which is in his anthology of short stories called Smoke and Mirrors. Both are excellent. 

* * *

Those stars should be centered, but I'm lazy. It's a page break. 

Anyway, as for what I've been up to as of late . . . I have been re-reading my book, working on the reverse outline process (which is where you outline your finished draft to get an idea of what's working and what isn't) while taking into consideration my wife's suggestions. 

Also, I recently went backpacking with my brother. While I didn't get any writing done, I always find myself creatively stimulated after traveling to the north woods of Minnesota. Many of my stories have to do with mystical occurrences in the woods, and these forests are often what I'm thinking of as I write. Here are a few photos from our trip. 

(My tent at our campsite. From where I'm taking the picture, my heels are in the lake.)

(This is the lake we camped at, Bear Lake.)

(Some night photography on cliffs.)

(More night photography, this time with my brother and I as ghosts.)

(The tent in the morning.)

(My brother (left) and I on an overlook in the middle of nowhere in Northern Minnesota.)

(Do I look much bigger than my brother in this shot?)

(Self Portrait. You can see a sliver of Lake Superior to the right of my left ear.)

(Minnesota's state bird—the Loon.)

(This is the cliff where we took our night shots.)

(Sunset at our campsite—this is two shots merged together, if you're wondering.)
So that's all I've got for now. Hopefully by my next post I'll be further along in finishing the third draft/reverse outline of my novel. 

Until then, have a happy Fourth of July!