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The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction Paperback – May 16, 2017
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“Gaiman’s prose reveals the relaxed intimacy of a cherished dinner partner and never loses sight of the big picture. . . . Highly recommended for readers of Gaiman’s work, specifically, and sf and fantasy generally, as well as those interested in cultural criticism and the art and craft of writing.” (Library Journal (starred review) on THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS)
“Full of devotion and erudition, this is also a glorious love-letter to reading, to writing, to dreaming, to an entire genre.” (Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO on THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS)
“If this book came to you during a despairing night, by dawn you would believe in ideas and hope and humans again. This is a beautiful, beautiful book.” (Caitlin Moran, journalist and New York Times bestselling author of How to Build a Girl)
From the Back Cover
A fascinating collection of nonfiction pieces on myriad topics observed in award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.
Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, these essays explore a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the touching title piece, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.
As Neil explains, “This book is not ‘the complete nonfiction of Neil Gaiman.’ It is, instead, a motley bunch of speeches and articles, introductions and essays. Some of them are serious and some of them are frivolous and some of them are earnest and some of them I wrote to try and make people listen.”
Illuminating and incisive, The View from the Cheap Seats explores some of the issues, subjects, and people that matter most to Neil Gaiman—and offers a unique glimpse into the mind of one of the most beloved and influential writers of our time.
Top customer reviews
If you’re a Neil Gaiman fanboy/girl, you’ll need no excuse to read anything that he puts out (even though--if that is the case--you’ll probably have read much of this before in separate outings.) So the question is why the rest of us—who may enjoy Gaiman’s writing tremendously but who don’t qualify as fanboys / fangirls—should read this. The reason that it’s worth reading is that Neil Gaiman is funny, has a way of framing ideas that makes them thought-provoking and interesting, and frequently writes quotable bits of text that are essentially brain candy.
The book’s title comes from an essay on Gaiman’s experience attending the Oscars from the upper balcony. As mentioned, the book is divided into thematic sections--ten of them to be precise. The book starts with “Some Things I Believe,” which presents speeches on the virtue of reading, libraries, books, and bookstores. The next section discusses people he has known and worked with—largely writers and graphic artists. Then Gaiman offers thoughts on the nature of science fiction, again mostly through book forwards on seminal works from the genre. There is a section on films and Gaiman’s experience with them—several of his works have been made into films and many others have been considered. The next part is on comic books and the works and artists that influenced Gaiman. The next section bears the title “Introductions and Contradictions” and it offers introductions for various books (not Gaiman’s but those written for other writers.) There’s a musical section about a few recording artists including They Might be Giants, Lou Reed, and—of course—Gaiman’s wife Amanda Palmer. Next, Gaiman presents some introductions and forwards for works of fantasy. One section includes only a solitary entry--a commencement speech entitled “Make Good Art.” The final section is sort of a catchall of essays that includes the title piece and one on events in Syria.
I’d recommend this book for those who enjoy reading (or writing) in the genres for which Gaiman is known. His comments offer interesting insight, and you may learn about some books and authors that you’d never heard of before.
I don't read comics at all, and have never attempted to navigate graphic comics either, but learned some interesting things about those pioneering artists and authors. It's even made me think I should convert a few of my own short stories into comics as well.
If you have read his far into the review, I'll offer Gaiman's own prologue advice, if a chapter isn't interesting, skip it. Not every chapter needs to be read, I've skipped over a handful myself, only scanning briefly in case some lucious oyster stands out and catches my eye.
Gaiman's writing is a pleasure to read as usual, touching on many subjects. Much of "The View from the Cheap Seats" is either reviews of, or introductions to, Gaiman's favorite books, music, films, and other sorts of art. While I liked all of the articles (music kind of went over my head since I'm not familiar with many of Gaiman's favorite musical artists) I particularly enjoyed those articles discussing books.
There may be people out here who can finish "The View from the Cheap Seats" without going out online and immediately picking up some of the recommended literature. If so, they're made of sterner stuff than I am. I already have several of the books Gaiman discusses, but I'm now in the middle of "The King of Elfland's Daughter," with a couple of other new books waiting in line.
Lover of the Written Word as being quite possibly the True Measure of Culture & Civilization...i Bow in Deep Respect to Neil Gaiman as Being the Writer of one of my Favorite books of all time (Stardust) & now a book about Being an Author, Artist, Human, Lover, Thinker Devoted to Making Things Up...You are a Supreme Inspiration to me Neil in Every Respect...i Love You Beyond Measure...Buy This Book & Read It Immediately