Sunday, June 23, 2013

Creeping Beneath Rhododendrons, a book review

I lay on the bed and lost myself in the stories. I liked that. Books were safer than other people anyway.
- from "The Ocean at The End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

It's not a children's horror story, it's an adult horror story about a child. Well, two children, actually, but Lettie Hempstock has been a child for a long time. I'll admit that when I opened the package, the book was smaller, shorter than I expected, but after reading it, I found it to be exactly the right length.

Lifting my eyes from the pages is like lifting my head from the pillow after a particularly vivid dream. The world is still there, the stories and the people, but it's difficult for me to capture exactly what had me so enraptured.

He is masterful, Mr. Gaiman is. The story could not survive without the magic he wove into it, but the magic seems just to be more magic of this world. Some of the magic of this world fades as we grow into adults, and some it's completely out of reach of some of us for all our lives.

That's why I have long drowned myself in books: I can't reach the magic, and I don't think I ever have.

They were not my friends, after all. They were just the people I went to school with. I made friends slowly, when I made them.

So many small snippets are drawn to me, and I to them, parts of my childhood that in many ways haunt me still.

The people I went to school with, or college, or work. The people I lived near, and we visited each other because it felt necessary, not because we were friends.

"I'll be fine." That's what I always say. But I wasn't.
"We'll be fine." That's what she said. But we weren't.

Some of these words don't feel like they belong to Neil. Sure, he put them in his book, but they're truths about me, truths that preceded my discovery of them in this book, his words and my reading of them merely brought them back to me.

Thank you, Neil.