Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: June 24, 2013

“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman

Ocean-at-the-End-of-the-Lane

“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman

c.2013, William Morrow
$25.99 / $27.99 Canada
181 pages

 

BOOK REVIEW
by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

Your mother loves to reminisce.

“Remember when…” she says before launching into some often-embarrassing story about something that happened years ago. “Remember when,” two words that make you scramble to recall whatever she’s talking about.

Sometimes, though, you can’t remember when. Her stories are familiar – but they aren’t, and you almost wonder if they ever really happened. Likewise, in the new novel, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman, a middle-aged man on his way to a funeral learns that Memory Lane has a dead-end.

He hadn’t meant to drive there.

He hadn’t really even known what he was looking for – nothing, probably, other than to see what had changed in his old neighborhood. It would be a nice departure from funeral conversation, a head-clearing side-trip, but he somehow ended up at Hempstock Farm. Up ‘til then, he’d nearly forgotten about the place.

As he walked down to the farm’s pond, memories came flooding back to him.

Lettie Hempstock (he hadn’t thought about her in years!) had once told him that the pond was really an ocean, and he’d believed her. He was seven years old that summer; she was eleven and she promised that she would keep him safe.

But, of course, she couldn’t.

It wasn’t her fault that he’d insisted on going with her to the back of her Grandmother’s property, where the wind howled and a gray thing spoke to Lettie in a most improper manner. It wasn’t her fault, either, that the gray thing threw something to him and he caught it, even though Lettie made him promise to hold her hand tight.

He never blamed anyone but himself for the appearance of Ursula Monkton.

When his mother found a job, Ursula Monkton moved into his old room. Ursula Monkton was supposedly a housekeeper-babysitter, but she wasn’t the nice girl his parents thought she was. She was evil, she knew all his thoughts and plans, and she terrified him. But Lettie would know what to do about that.

Lettie Hampton always knew…

Misty. That was the first word that comes to mind as I reflect on reading “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.”  The narrator of this short novel seems to be oddly peering at the past through doddering confusion, as if something’s foggily off-center but he can’t exactly determine what it might be.

Odder still is that author Neil Gaiman doesn’t turn up the heat anytime quick – which is, I think, where the brilliance of this book lies. No, Gaiman lets his narrator share his memories with curious incredulousness and incredible calm. That allows the story to wash over readers, to overwhelm us slowly and deliciously. We’re invited into the mist, too, and it’s a squirmy thing.

For readers new to this author, consider this: if Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson had a love-child, it would be Neil Gaiman.  If you’re a fan, you know that already – and you know that “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is a book you’ll remember.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

KFD Board adopts budget

480x270-Keizer-Fire-District-KFD-logo-C

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Fire District’s proposed 2013-14 budget includes few major changes with the most increases resulting from an attempt at a new local option levy later this year.

“This is a status quo budget plus an election. We’re going to spend about $40,000 on the election and if we don’t do it, there will be hell to pay. We won’t be getting to calls in less than six minutes and we’ll be losing people and that would be huge,” said Chief Jeff Cowan, of the Keizer Fire District.

The proposed budget was presented to the Keizer Fire Board Tuesday, June 18, and adopted the same evening.

One last-minute change…


To read the complete article and other news from around the Keizer area, pick up a copy of the June 21 print edition of Keizertimes, available at stores all around the area. To subscribe to the print edition for just $25 a year, click on the ‘Subscribe Today’ link at the top of the page, call 503-390-1051 or visit our office at 142 Chemawa Road North in Keizer.

Renaissance Inn getting new owners

 

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Sherrie Gottfried sees bright days ahead for Keizer’s lone hotel.

Gottfried, director of Sales and Catering at Keizer Renaissance Inn and Conference Center, gave an update at Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting.

“I have not been here in a while,” Gottfried said. “It’s been really, really busy. As you know, we are under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We’re reorganizing. The hotel was put up for auction a week and a half ago. We will continue to run as a hotel. You should know the new owners in the next 60 days. I got a chance to meet them this last week. I met the group of gentlemen.”

This spring, the hotel entered Chapter 11 – not Chapter 13, as mistakenly printed in a Keizertimes story two weeks ago – bankruptcy. Among other things, hotel officials have not been able to pay the quarterly Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) to the city, which raised questions about the future of the business.

Despite that uncertainty, Gottfried said things are running as normal at the hotel – if not better than normal.


To read the complete article and other news from around the Keizer area, pick up a copy of the June 21 print edition of Keizertimes, available at stores all around the area. To subscribe to the print edition for just $25 a year, click on the ‘Subscribe Today’ link at the top of the page, call 503-390-1051 or visit our office at 142 Chemawa Road North in Keizer.