Tag Archives: literature

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

15 Jul

If Neil Gaiman isn’t a Time Lord himself then he must live in a magical realm that mere humans are not privy to and therefore must write us magical tales and sell them as fiction. Neil Gaiman, I love you.

I have been waiting for “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” since I got the email from B&N that I could pre-order the book way back in April. I was not disappointed. Here is a book that reminds you that sometimes seeing things differently as a child is okay, you were merely seeing the truth that adults were blind to. Gaiman reminds his readers that magic exists but that maybe those who live near magic are not so eager to share it with the other world–they are too busy keeping it at bay and keeping it from destroying the world they love (ahem, TIME LORD MUCH?). Now that I think about it: maybe this is just a book about lady time lords.

The story seems simple enough: A man is attending a funeral in his hometown and he finds himself, in his grief, driving to the house at the end of the lane, a place where he played as a child. While he is there he starts to remember a particularly vivid and dangerous summer when he was 7 and the girl at the house at the end of the lane, Lettie Hemstock, was 11. Suddenly we are taken back in time to the summer when the man, as a young boy, must move out of his room for a renter. This renter kills himself in the boy’s father’s car at the end of the lane. Suddenly, strange things happen. The boy and Lettie unleash a creature into the world that is as old or older than the world itself, a creature from “the old country.” The boy and Lettie must trap the creature and destroy it before it destroys the world.

By the end of the book you wonder how many times you’ve found yourself forgetting something whimsical and magical from your childhood thinking it was just a dream but now second guessing yourself–maybe it was real. Maybe, you had the grandest adventure of your life.

As an afterthought:

Did anyone get to this passage and wonder if he was throwing out a Doctor Who reference,(maybe I read too fast but it seems like an interesting choice of words)? pg. 143, “I knew where Rose was–the peculiar crinkling of space into dimensions that fold like origami and blossom like strange orchids, and which would mark the last good time before the eventual end of everything and the next Big Bang, which would be, I knew now, nothing of the kind.”

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

24 Jun

I look to books for answers a lot. Maybe I should be looking to the Bible you might say or, maybe I should be looking to God for answers. When I say that I look to books for answers I mean that I’m looking to God for answers. God works through people so why can’t he work through people’s writings in books? 

While I was working on my MA I wrote my thesis on the dead and on birds. So it only made sense that when I was walking through the new bookstore in town before Mother’s Day (a terrible day when you’ve lost your Mother) and saw the book “When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice” by Terry Tempest Williams, I stopped and browsed. When I discovered that this book was also about her own Mother’s death, I bought it.

I loved this book. Williams writes about birds, her Mother, her Grandmother, conservationism, how she met her husband, and her grief when her Mother died. It’s a lot to write about and sometimes I felt like maybe this could have been split into two books (her family and her conservationism) but, I understand that when you talk about your Mother and your experience of her dying, your entire identity is brought to the forefront. 

What I also appreciated about this book is Williams working through the mystery of why her Mother bought notebooks but never filled them. Williams muses on all the reasons why her mother didn’t fill them and what those notebooks represented to her Mother but you get the feeling that these things are more what the notebooks represent to Williams’ perception of her Mother and that’s okay. 

I was expecting to read something to help me on my journey through grieving and mourning and this book delivered. To go further I would also recommend this book to bird lovers, feminists, and conservationists. Williams gets to your heart in a poetic and honest way and you can’t help but want to roam out in the forest somewhere looking for a bird and looking for yourself.


Quotes I loved:

“What is voice? I will say it is so: The first voice I heard belonged to my mother. It was her voice I listened to from the womb….I will say it is so: My mother’s voice is a lullaby in my cells. When I am still, my body feels her breathing.” pg. 17

“To be read. To be heard. To be seen. I want to be read, I want to be heard. I don’t need to be seen. To write requires an ego, a belief that what you say matters. Writing also requires an aching curiosity leading you to discover, uncover, what is gnawing at your bones. Words have a weight to them. ” pg 47/48

“Facing the death of one’s mother puts things in acute perspective. I did not have the luxury of fighting with my mom as other friends did with theirs…A rupture was occurring in me.What mattered most was time with family, time in nature, and time with myself.” pg. 55

“Good friends were traded for good reads. Books became my moral grounding, my way of finding a philosophy that comforted me when church did not.” pg. 55

“Reading has not only changed my life but saved it. The right books picked at the right times–especially the one that scares us, threatens to undermine all we have been told, the one that contains forbidden thoughts–these are the books that become Eve’s apples.” pg 97