The Ocean at the End of the Lane (and Word Count)

theoceanattheendofthelaneby Neil Gaiman

This is typical Gaiman: the nightmarish landscapes and events are always presented with a reassuring glow of beauty that makes the scene and the story much less horrifying. Rather, it becomes purely entertaining. A bit of chill here and there and things mostly work out — except that there is always that trademark tinge of melancholy – like a lonely tinkling of a music box that plays a haunting and unfamiliar tune, slowly coming to a pause. The book reads like an expanded short story and I think it probably would have benefited from being a short story, rather than a novel (which even though meets the “novel” length requirement, reads more or less like a novella, with such a local setting and a tight plot time frame.)

Did I enjoy it? Definitely. Did it sweep me off of my feet? Not like some of his other work did in the past. However, since Gaiman proclaimed that this is as close to an “actual account” of his childhood as he could manage, the readers do get a glimpse of this creative writer’s mental landscape and the psyches that bring us illuminating stories.

I got a bit curious about the definition of novels, novella, etc. by length, and found this list on the Nebula award:

  • Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
  • Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
  • Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
  • Novel: 40,000 words or more.
  • At the author’s request, a novella-length work published individually, rather than as a part of a collection, anthology, or other collective work, shall appear in the novel category.

Source: http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/nebula-weekend/faq/

On the same site, I also found an article about the definition of “a word”:

“So, years ago, publishers set up a standard definition: a word is six characters (including spaces).” — more detailed explanation and rationale for this can be found here:

http://www.sfwa.org/2005/01/what-is-a-word/

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