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Masha du Toit
Attended University of Cape Town
Lives in Cape Town, South Africa
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Masha du Toit

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Book Review : The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

I have mixed feelings about this one.
On the one hand - I enjoyed reading it. It's gripping, and it's well written. On the other hand, I found myself withdrawing from the story.  I felt as though I could sense the hand and mind of the writer far too clearly - and it felt manipulative.

The book is about a man revisiting his childhood home, and remembering what happened to the lonely, withdrawn, little boy he used to be.  His parents were distant, he had no friends, and his only real pleasure was reading.

The story follows a satisfyingly fairy-tale pattern of a small disaster (the death of a kitten) leading to a series of events that draws the narrator deeper into a magical and dangerous world. He meets a family of women for whom magic is as real and as ordinary as pouring a glass of milk or baking a pie.  He becomes friends with that family's daughter, Lettie Hempstock, who takes him on an adventure.  A small mistake -- he disobeys the command "don't let go of my hand"  -  has large consequences, and leads to him putting his family, and himself, in danger as a monster moves from the magical world and invades his family.

The telling of the children's adventure-journey is powerful and evocative. It shimmers between a fable, and an imaginary game such as children play every day.  This is probably my favourite part of the book.

As the story progressed, I became more and more uneasy with it.  It's beautifully written. The events feel convincing, with a bite of reality.  But I started feeling too aware of the intentions of the writer.

For me to really enjoy a book, I have to feel that I'm entering into a partnership with the writer.  We both go "okay, this is a story. But it's also real"  I need to know that the story is as true for the writer as it is for me.  When I start becoming too aware of the artifice, it pulls me out of the story.

In this case, it was the way in which certain events are clearly and cold-heartedly intended to horrify and shock.  So - spoiler coming up...

I could imagine Neil Gaiman going "Hmm.  People are pretty freaked out by the idea of parents being in control of them, and abusing that power. Should I have the mother kill and cook his new kitten and make him eat it, or should I have the father try to drown him in the bath?"

It's a bit like having a conversation with somebody, a friendly, heartfelt conversation, and then realising that the person you are speaking to is not your friend, but only a performer.  It felt fake.

Partly it's because the main character is more or less an empty void.  I think it's pretty telling that I cannot remember his name (although I've just read the book) and a quick scan over other reviews,  people just refer to him as "the little boy".  

I'll have to think a bit more about why I found this book so cold-hearted and manipulative.  It's not just the horror of the events depicted.  It's something to do with the fact that the horror did not have a pay-off.  They did not have any consequences.  Or none that I could believe in.
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That's my problem, I read the reviews before buying the book. :-)
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Spending Saturday evening experimenting with scene separators for my print edition of Crooks and Straights .  Print is way harder than e-book formatting, but you can do exactly what you want.
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This reminds me...I need to do a review this week. I loved it, +Masha du Toit . 
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Will be reading this soon - got it from the library. The film was excellent, and +Brendon Bussy  says the book is good too...
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Oh! I loved the movie of this ( the original, not the remake).
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 *The Artist*  - Troll War!
A short series of four comics that follows the rise of hatred, and the ultimate victory of art :)  

Part One: Hatred Breeds Hatred:
http://zenpencils.com/comic/144-the-artist-troll-war-1-hatred-breeds-hatred/

Part Two: Negativity Destroys All http://zenpencils.com/comic/145-the-artist-troll-war-part-2-negativity-destroys-all/

Part Three: Creators > Haters
http://zenpencils.com/comic/146-the-artist-troll-war-3-creators-haters/

 Part Four: Good Art Triumphant
http://zenpencils.com/comic/147-the-artist-troll-war-4-good-art-triumphant/
So this is something a bit different: a multi-part story that will run over the next few weeks without any inspirational quotes except for the short title. This story has been brewing in my head fo...
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K M Idamari's profile photoAndy Goldman's profile photoMasha du Toit's profile photo
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Oh.  +Andy Goldman I did that too and quickly stopped. Yuckity. 
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That fine line between apologising, and justifying yourself.
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Gregory Nietsky's profile photoH.N. James's profile photoAndy Goldman's profile photoJeffrey Bennett's profile photo
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Generally insufficient temptation to keep silent, which isn't better. I know that line well.
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HUGE tank
They've just poured the concrete base for the new predator tank at the Two Oceans aquarium.   I think, that strip through the centre is where the transparent tunnel is going to go, so you'll be able to walk right through it and have the sharks and rays swimming overhead :)

This is a huge tank. The concrete took most of a day to pour, and this is just the beginning.  Can you imagine making, and transporting that tunnel? I think it's going to be one single piece of curved, cast acrylic.  o_O
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Can't wait, +Marti Lawrence They say it will be done by December...
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Have her in circles
73,033 people
 
Sunrise on Table Mountain
Great way to start a Monday morning :) 
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With dogs. Agreed.
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+Laura Klein Stephens reminded me of this.  Blue-green hair stage. Was taken about...17 years ago?  Long, long ago. Why am I holding a video tape?  I have no idea.
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There ya go!
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Just finished this. I thought it was good, but nasty too! Reminded me quite a bit of Stephen King
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Read Good Omens last year +Trey Pitsenberger  It's a fun book :)
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This. Is. Just. 
I don't know what to say.
These  illustrations are made by cutting paper and arranging it into a sort of cave, then lighting it from behind to form these magical, mesmerizing images.  They are made by Harikrishnan Panicker and Deepti Nair.  

See more here: http://www.theblackbookgallery.com/artists/hari-deepti/
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C.J. Shane's profile photoDina Eisenberg's profile photoMasha du Toit's profile photoIrina Tcherednichenko's profile photo
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Bautiful.
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People
Have her in circles
73,033 people
Work
Occupation
Writer, Artist, Teacher
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Cape Town, South Africa
Previously
Boston, USA - Durban, South Africa
Story
Tagline
Draw, write, read, write, draw!
Introduction
I'm an artist , writer and teacher. I read far too much, draw pictures that tell stories and write stories about every-day magic. 

My latest book is Crooks and Straights, an illustrated urban fantasy, set here in Cape Town, South Africa.  I've also written The Sisters series,  The Story Trap and The Broken Path.  If you are curious about my books, why not  visit my site to see book descriptions and samples.

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I live with my husband Brendon and dogs Anna and Pippin in a sunny house in Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa. I have a BA in Fine Art (Bronze Casting) and a Masters in Information Technology.
Education
  • University of Cape Town
    Masters Information Technology, 2004 - 2007
  • University of Cape Town
    BA Fine Art, 1990 - 1994
Basic Information
Gender
Female
Relationship
Married