Title: The View from the Cheap Seats
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Nonfiction, Essays, Memoir
Date Published: May 31, 2016 by William Morrow
Synopsis: An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.
An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his bestselling fiction. Now, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together for the first time ever more than sixty pieces of his outstanding nonfiction. Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores 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 title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.
Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seatsexplores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman—offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.
I couldn’t just do a regular review for this book because it deserves so much more than that. Even this long, nonsensical mess that I’ve written won’t do this book any justice. When I thought about having to review this book I was both nervous and excited because after reading Neil Gaiman’s fantastic writing, I didn’t feel adequate enough to even do anything other than give it the five stars that it so rightfully deserves. I then thought about it and I actually have so much I want to convey about how wonderful this book is even though my writing is crap in comparison (Neil Gaiman, sensei, teach me your writing ways!). Get comfy, this might be a while and a bit of a ramble and I am so sorry.
This was so freaking amazing and has easily made it’s way to my favorites of 2016. Mind you, I’ve only read one book by Neil Gaiman (The Ocean At the End of the Lane) but I was blown away by his writing and storytelling within the first couple of pages. I’ve actually been anticipating the release of this book since January because I was so impressed with his writing and it exceeded all of my expectations and then some. Reading this just made me not only appreciate his writing even more, but him as a person as well. He’s a very fascinating and brilliant man. He’s just so full of knowledge and gives fantastic advice throughout the book that I think can be applied no matter what you do in life.
Reading this made me feel as if I was sitting across from him and he was just telling me these things, it always felt personal and like a conversation between friends and that made it even more enjoyable. I think there is something here for everyone. Do you have to read every single essay? No, not really but I highly recommend that you do because they’re all so fascinating and interesting in their own way and I think you might miss something if you don’t. I will admit though that it can be a bit redundant because he’ll mention the same thing or story in like three different essays but it wasn’t too annoying in my opinion.
Reading this really made me want to meet him and just have a conversation with him to pick his brain. He’s so damn intriguing and I just want to see the way his mind works.
I think one of my favorite aspects of this book was that it’s not written in a regular memoir way. It consists of articles for magazines he’s done over the span of his career, introductions to other author’s books and speeches that he’s given. I think that made it more fun because you really got to get a good look at his writing over the years. I also really liked that the last section was more personal and about his life and it was really great and kind of sad as well.
Also, every mention of his wife, Amanda Palmer, made me squeal because they are so stinking cute and the way he loves her is so amazing. They’re such a quirky couple and I’m a hopeless romantic at heart.
Some of my favorite chapters from this book are:
–Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming: The Reading Agency Lecture, 2013
-Three Authors: On Lewis, Tolkien and Chesterton: The Mythcon 35 Guest of Honor Speech
-The Pornography of Genre, or the Genre of Pornography
-These Are Not Our Faces
-On Stephen King, for the Sunday Times
-The Nature of the Infection: Some Thoughts on Doctor Who
-On Comics and Films: 2006
-Batman: Cover to Cover
-Some Strangeness in the Proportion: The Exquisite Beauties of Edgar Allen Poe
-On the New Annotated Dracula
-Hi, By the Way: Tori Amos
-Curious Wine: Tori Amos II
-Who Killed Amanda Palmer
-Make Good Art
-The View from the Cheap Seats
-The Dresden Dolls: Hallowe’en 2010
-A Slip of the Keyboard: Terry Pratchett
That’s not even half of the content in this book, by the way. A lot of them I’m pretty sure can be found online and I highly suggest you give them a read.
Also, for whatever reason, there isn’t a quotes page for this book up on Goodreads but there definitely needs to be! So many great quotes in this book.
-“You can fuck around with the rules as much as you want to — after you know what the rules are. You can be Picasso after you know how to paint. Do it your way, but know how to do it their way first.”
-“Make mistakes. Make great mistakes, make wonderful mistakes, make glorious mistakes. Better to make a hundred mistakes than stare at a blank piece of paper too scared to do anything wrong, too scared to do anything.”
-“If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.”
-“Critics will grumble. Of course they will. That’s one of the functions of critics. As an artist it’s your job to give them ulcers, and perhaps something to get apoplectic about.”
I can definitely see myself re-reading this as I’m sure I’ll pick up on things I missed the first time around. I also have the need to read everything he’s ever written because I can’t get enough of his writing.
To wrap this all up, I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Like I said before, there’s something here that I think everyone can take away from it. Or maybe you just like reading essays, then that’s cool, too. You’ll get a kick out of this no matter your reasoning for picking it up.
Read it! You’re welcome in advance.