When We Went To See The End Of The World By Dawnie Morningside, Age 11¼ by Neil Gaiman, 2007
The magic trick:
Framing the story as if it was a school paper by a young girl
Gaiman uses the same stream-of-consciousness/bad-grammar narration here to approximate a child’s voice that George Saunders and Simon Rich employ so well in their own stories. It works remarkably well. You definitely feel like you’re reading a school report from a sixth-grader. The story isn’t about her, though. It’s about the parents. They’re fighting. But because we’re getting the whole thing through the innocent eyes of Dawnie, I suppose the story is about her. It’s about her feelings in the face of fighting parents, and the child narration is the perfect means. And that’s quite a trick on Gaiman’s part.
What I did on the founders holiday was, my dad said we were going to have a picnic, and, my mum said where and I said I wanted to go to Ponydale and ride the ponies, but my dad said we were going to the end of the world and my mum said oh god and my dad said now, Tanya, its time the child got to see what was what and my mum said no, no, she just meant that shed thought that Johnsons Peculiar Garden of Lights was nice this time of year.
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This is a great story as it shows that Gaiman is so great at writing in a child’s voice. I remember the first short story by him I ever read was “Chivalry.” Truly, he is one of the world’s best short story writers.