The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman
advanced readers copy; 544 pages
The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
is a very highly recommended collection of various nonfiction speeches, essays, and introductions.
Gaiman organizes the various sixty nonfiction pieces into ten categories
including: Some Things I Believe; Some People I Have Known;
Introductions and Musings: Science Fiction; Films and Movies and Me; On
Comics and Some of the People Who Make Them; Introductions and
Contradictions; Music and the People Who Make It; On Stardust and Fairy
Tales: Make Good Art; The View From the Cheap Seats: Real Things.
For anyone who has never read any of Gaiman's nonfiction pieces before this, you are in for a real treat should you pick up The View from the Cheap Seats.
Gaiman shines here on many far reaching subjects and the plethora of
material in these selected pieces should cover the interests of and
appeal to a wide variety of people. There are some recurring themes that
will resonate especially with readers, artists of all types, and those
interested in literacy and the arts.
Most people already know Gaiman is an incredible writer. This collection
expands that well deserved adoration to his nonfiction pieces. I
predict readers will find themselves checking back and rereading some of
these pieces over the years, which is a recommendation in itself.
I especially love several pieces included in this collection. The 2013
Reading Agency Lecture had several paragraphs I flagged on children, the
importance of reading and how well meaning adults can easily destroy a
child's love of reading:
"You don't discourage children from reading because you feel they are
reading the wrong thing." If you are at all involved with libraries, or
education you're going to love the first section on some things Gaiman
believes. He is a champion of voracious readers everywhere, of every
I don't personally read comics or graphic novels, but I have nothing
against them. Obviously Gaiman is a huge fan and that section is quite
interesting for someone like me. I loved just a little but essential
piece of advice found in a speech given at PROCON in 1997:
"It took me longer to learn that you can say no. And it's an easy thing
to say. It helps you define your boundaries." Yes! But difficult.
Then in a piece titled "Confessions: On Astro City and Kurt Busiek":
"This is the magic trick upon which all good fiction depends: it's the
angled mirror in the box behind which the doves are hidden, the hidden
compartment beneath the table.
There is room for things to mean more than they literally mean."
Wow! What a concept that people need to embrace. A story may mean one
thing on the surface, but underneath there are layers that will surface
for the right reader.
From the 2004 Harvey Awards Speech, which is a variation on his "Make Good Art "speech, I liked this advice:
"Make Mistakes. Make great mistakes, make wonderful mistakes, make
glorious mistakes. Better to make a hundred mistakes than to stare at a
blank piece of paper too scared to do anything wrong, too scared to do
Gaiman's Make Good Art commencement speech from the University of the
Arts in 2012 is glorious and should be viewed by anyone who is involved
in any of the arts. Millions have viewed the video.
"Make good art.
I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg
crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on
your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the
Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done
before? Make good art."
Get this collection. You will never regret it.
Disclosure: I received an advanced
reading copy of this book from the publisher and TLC for review
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