First edition, signed twice, first on the upper cover: “annotated by Neil Gaiman” and again on the title page: “Written & annotated by Neil Gaiman (me).” Gaiman dedicated this tale of a middle-aged man who returns to the scene of a childhood trauma, to his wife, Amanda Palmer “who wanted to know.” So ends the printed dedication. He now adds: “about my childhood, mostly.” The theme and mood of the novel is perfectly captured in the epigram of Maurice Sendak that he reproduces on the flyleaf: “I remember my own childhood vividly…I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew. It would scare them.” Gaiman tells us in the annotation that follows: ‘I love this quote. Fought copy editors to have the speech marks in it. The two-page Sendak-Spiegelman comic is wonderful thing. I never knew Sendak, but Art has been an acquaintance, then a friend, since 1987. N.” On the half-title he also tells us he originally wanted to title the work, “Lettie Hempstock’s Ocean.” Initially conceiving the work as a short story, he tells us on p.41, during the confrontation with Lettie and the “gray thing,” that “This was the moment I realized it wasn’t a simple short story, and stopped for a few months.” The extensive annotations alternate between biographical memories and charming, whimsical observations. Ursula Monckton’s entrance into the story prompts the memory of the little brown purse that was “given to my sister by a different housekeeper-nanny who seemed to hate us both.” Further on: “I loved climbing up and down drain pipes. It was a book thing.” This return to The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a pleasant visit for Gaiman, though the odd line elicits his censure: “Slightly heavy-handed with the Narcissus metaphor.”
GAIMAN, Neil (b. 1960). The Ocean at the End of the Lane. New York: William Morrow, 2013. 8°. Original cloth-backed; dust jacket (small tear along gutter of half-title).