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Monday, June 10, 2013

You have to be this tall to go on this ride

So much is happening. The tour machine has started to grind and whirr, and I have packed as much as I can of my life into a wheelie suitcase and a backpack, climbed onto a train, and I will not be home for a month and two days, and the tour proper, which starts tomorrow, does not end now until the very end of August. I will be on planes and I will be on a tourbus and I will sleep in hotels. I will see Amanda again at the end of July for about 8 days between getting back from San Diego Comic Con and going off to sign in Canada, and then again  for a few days at the end of September as she returns from Australia before we both go in different directions again.

I'm going to try and use this blog more, as a journal and as a place you can find out what's going on.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane comes out in a week. I am more nervous about this than I have been about any book I have ever published.

The Guardian has just posted the Prologue online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/10/extract-ocean-end-lane-neil-gaiman

So many articles, so many interviews, so many reviews. You are not expected to read them all. Even I am not expected to read them all.

The reviews I'm liking best are ones like this one from PopMatters that tells you nothing about what happens in the book and everything about what it felt like to read the book: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/172252-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-by-neil-gaiman/

Put simply, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the best-written book of Gaiman’s career. It features a level of craftsmanship, focus, and control that we normally associate more with literary fiction than genre. The book is focused, lyrical, and profoundly perceptive in its exploration of childhood and memory, and it’s also quite frightening—like one of Truman Capote’s holiday stories by way of Stephen King.

The same goes for this Den of Geek review: http://www.denofgeek.com/books-comics/neil-gaiman/25898/neil-gaimans-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-review

Is it, like Coraline or The Graveyard Book, suitable for children? It’s not being marketed as such. Reading some of the more nightmarish scenes, and the act of domestic abuse that lodges horribly in the novel’s throat like a silver shilling might (coins are a Gaiman staple and make a reappearance here), it’s easy to see why.
 If it’s not just for adults, and not quite for children, there is one age-flexible group it is written for. An obtuse thing to say about a book it may be, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane was written for readers. It’s for people to whom books were and are anaesthesia, companion, and tutor. If you’re one of them, you’ll want to wade into it, past your ankles, knees and shoulders, until it laps over the crown of your head. You’ll want to dive in.

This is an interview with me, about the book, by Joe Hill. If you wish to be completely unspoilered, bookmark it and then come back to it when you have read the book. It ends with a pancake recipe, which is a first for  me and interviews. http://www.omnivoracious.com/2013/06/uncharted-waters-joe-hill-explores-neil-gaimans-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane.html

So now here is The Ocean at the End of the Lane--an overpowering work of the imagination, a quietly devastating masterpiece, and Gaiman's most personal novel to date. I had a chance to talk to him about it. Here are some things we said:

Interviews:  a lovely interview with Tim Martin in the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10091579/Neil-Gaiman-I-wanted-to-write-my-wife-a-story.html

The result is the most affecting book Gaiman has written, a novel whose intensity of real-world observation and feeling make its other-worldly episodes doubly startling and persuasive. “There are a few things I do in Ocean which technically are the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he acknowledges, “and I don’t think I could have pulled them off 10 years ago.” But even for a novelist with such a Midas touch, approaching his publishers with it was, he says, a heart-in-mouth affair. “It went in with an apologetic note saying ‘It’s small and personal, it’ll be OK if you guys don’t want to do it,” he laughs. “I definitely wasn’t going ‘I’ve written my best book!’”



And here's an interview, more about the year than the book, in the Independent by David Barnett: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/neil-gaiman-interview-the-year-of-living-crazily-8650672.html

There are very adult themes in Ocean, which are obvious to the reader but which go over the head of the main character. Given his reputation as a children's author, is he at all concerned that younger readers might want to give Ocean a go?
"It isn't a children's book but some younger readers might think they're ready for it. That's why I started the book off with a couple of really dry chapters. It's like, if you've made it this far, then you might be ready for the rest of it." He smiles and holds a hand up high, palm downwards. "You have to be this tall to go on this ride."

...

The tour starts in the UK with two pre-publication signings: Bath on June 14th: http://www.toppingbooks.co.uk/events/bath/neil-gaiman/ for tickets and info (it just moved to a bigger Venue, The Forum).

Cambridge on Saturday June 15th at 8 pm: Tickets via Heffers http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/details.php?id=155

The Royal Society of Literature event on the night of the 17th in London is Sold Out.

Then on the morning of the 18th, I fly back to the US, and the tour kicks off with BROOKLYN! It's 7pm at the Howard Gilman Opera House. There may be special guests too. I will sign for EVERYBODY THERE.  Ticket info at http://www.bam.org/literary/2013/neil-gaiman

More information on the rest of the tour (except for Canada and some of the August UK things that haven't yet been announced) over at http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/. It's not up-to-date on sold-out events though: New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Phoenix, SF, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and Lexington are all sold out.

Right. Back to work. Back to reality.

(Also, we picked a hashtag for Twitter: it's #OceanLane.)


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