I met Neil Gaiman at a signing event for The Ocean at the End of the Lane at Symphony Space in New York City last night. He talked with Erin Morgenstern about the process of writing his first adult novel in years, and how his own childhood had informed much of the book. “It’s all lies,” he said (referring to Ocean), “and it’s all true.”
Gaiman proved yet again that he is a master of anticipation, for he seemed to know exactly what the audience wanted and when the audience wanted it. (Of course there were surprises thrown in. It wouldn’t have been as fun if we knew exactly what was going to happen next.) He was wonderful at improvising, throwing jokes and anecdotes into the discussion. But most amazing of all was that he was completely and utterly genuine in his delivery. (Not that this is unusual for him, but there are plenty of other creators who do not stray from the confines of insincerity.) There were actually moments when he paused in his delivery, as if searching for the right word, or thought, or memory, which only further proved his candor. He did not spout hackneyed catchphrases, and there was no branding or Lockhart-ian posturing. Just Neil.
I just started reading Ocean last night, and – though only three chapters in – I can say with absolute certainty that it is one of the best books I have read in a long while. Gaiman’s use of language never fails to impress, and the memories awoken by enchanting depiction of sensory details stay alive within the mind. I look forward to what the remainder of the book holds. (If all goes according to plan, I will have a review up soon.)