(My Rating: 2/5)
For me this book was OK. I think it might have more to do with the fact that the genre (I think this book falls somewhere between fabulism and dark fantasy, I’m not absolutely sure though!) isn’t really my cup of tea.
The story is of a man who has just returned, after many years, to the place he spent his childhood in and he begins to recall events that took place there when he was 7.
I didn’t enjoy the story or the writing very much, but what I did like was the way the main character relates his childhood memories. I think Gaiman has captured very well the nature of childhood memories and the impact they have on us. I think each one of us has certain childhood memories that stay with us forever and while each person’s important or defining memories are unique, there is something universal about the way these memories affect us and make us feel when we think about them years later, as adults. Somehow Gaiman has expressed this feeling well, and I think that’s a pretty tough thing to have accomplished.
Often what we adults consider the ‘big picture’ things don’t stay embedded in our childhood memories; the little things do. For example, on Pg 81 the narrator says:
“At that time my father worked in an office an hour’s drive away. I was not certain what he did. He had a very pretty secretary, with a toy poodle, and whenever she knew we children would be coming in to see him, she would bring the poodle in from home, and we would play with it. Sometimes we would pass buildings and my father would say, ‘That’s one of ours.’ But I did not care about buildings, so I never asked how it was one of ours, or even who we were.”
The most powerful scene was the bathtub scene – it was scary, moving and heartbreaking and reminds you how traumatising losing your temper can be to a young child.
There is a statement I liked and thought quite wise, towards the end of book, when the narrator’s friend goes through a distressing experience and he enquires of her grandmother if his friend will be the same, the grandmother replies:
“Nothing’s ever the same. Be it a second or a hundred years later. It’s always churning and roiling. And people change as much as oceans.”