Title: The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction
Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 532 Pages
The View from the Cheap Seats draws together myriad non-fiction writing by international phenomenon and Sunday Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman. From Make Good Art, the speech that went viral, to pieces on artists and legends including Terry Pratchett and Lou Reed, the collection offers a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.
‘Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation’
Welcome to the conversation. Neil Gaiman fled the land of journalism to find truths through storytelling and sanctuary in not needing to get all the facts right. Of course, the real world continued to make up its own stories around him, and he has responded over the years with a wealth of ideas and introductions, dreams and speeches. Here ‘we can meet the writer full on’ (Stephen Fry) as he opens our minds to the people he admires and the things he believes might just mean something – and makes room for us to join the conversation too.
I love Neil Gaiman. I have said that I would love to tickle his brain and hopefully some of that magic and talent could be captured by my fingers. Sadly, I don’t think that I am going to get the opportunity to tickle his brain so instead I will settle for reading his books.
I wanted to read The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non Fiction because I wanted to find out more about the man behind the writer. What was it that made Neil Gaiman so talented as a writer. It was the wrong thing for me to do. Neil Gaiman the man and Neil Gaiman the writer are one and the same. There is no line of distinction. What I did take from The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non Fiction is a deeper love for Neil Gaiman.
Truthfully, some of the essays in this selection did not have a massive impact on me. However, there were plenty that left me stunned. Personal highlights were:
On Stephen King, for the Sunday Times
2004 Harvey Awards Speech
Some Strangeness in the Proportion: The Exquisite Beauties of Edgar Allen Poe
Waiting for the Man: Lou Reed
The Dresden Dolls: Hallowe’en 2010
Eight Views of Mount Fuji: Beloved Demons and Anthony Martignetti
A Slip of the Keyboard: Terry Pratchett
All of these were fantastic reads. However, there were two essays that stood out for me. The first was Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming: The Reading Agency Lecture, 2013. I am a big advocate of libraries and the need for them in a community and so I sat reading this essay agreeing with every paragraph. Anyone who questions the need for libraries needs to read this essay.
The second essay that really had an impact on me was So Many Ways to Die in Syria Now: May 2014. It is heartbreaking. Truly.
Needless to say, my love for Neil Gaiman hasn’t wavered. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non Fiction is a beautiful collection of essays and I fully recommend it.
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non Fiction by Neil Gaiman is available now.
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