A Total Inability To Connect

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman Writing: 5
Story/Plot: 4
Depth/Detail: 3
Enjoyment: 4
Audio Performance: 5

I've been fairly outspoken about my relative distaste for Gaiman's writing, as well as the hype surrounding it. I found [b:American Gods|4407|American Gods|Neil Gaiman|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1258417001s/4407.jpg|1970226] to be one of the more lacklustre books I've ever read, and [b:Stardust|16793|Stardust|Neil Gaiman|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1328433738s/16793.jpg|3166179] to be completely disappointing and disjointed. Despite that, I get hounded relentlessly from Gaimanites about how great he is, how amazing his books are, how incredible his prose is, etc. I keep giving him chance after chance it feels like, reading his books and just not getting it. I get insulted for being unintelligent, for being a casual reader, for not being analytic, for understanding the genius, for seeing the brilliance in meandering books with no real point and seemingly arbitrary insertion of magic.

Well, I sort of get it after [b:Ocean At The End Of The Lane|15783514|The Ocean at the End of the Lane|Neil Gaiman|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1351914778s/15783514.jpg|21500681]. Kind of. I found the book to be lighthearted and whimsical, like his books tend to be. I found the plot to be pointless and meandering, seemingly arbitrary, entirely about the writing and less about the actual happenings. All of the things that I tend to dislike about Gaiman's novels. That said, I found something about this book to be different. The prose was beautiful, as people say. The characters were real, visceral, human, with human emotions and growth and dialogue. The prose was flowing, pretty, flowery. The book was 190 pages of fluff, but it was fluff that worked. It was not infuriating, as his other books might be, but it felt right, it felt like it all made sense in the framework of the story.

The story might have been random, spacy, arbitrary. The plot movement may have hovered near the nonexistent, but it was still just so enjoyable. I still had qualms with it, as I think I will with any and all of his work. Maybe it's true that I just "don't get it", that I'm not smart enough, that I don't appreciate subtlety enough, that I just don't understand his genius.

But for once, I kind of see it.