The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

5.0 2
by Neil Gaiman
     
 

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An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.

An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated

Overview

An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author 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 Seats explores 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 04/25/2016
This collection conclusively proves that Gaiman is just as accomplished an essayist as he is an author of fiction (The Ocean at the End of the Lane) and comics (The Sandman). Echoing Rainer Maria Rilke’s sentiment that “To praise is the whole thing,” the collection is about building things up, not tearing them down. Gaiman’s paeans to books, libraries, and bookstores, which tellingly are grouped together at the start, are heartfelt gems that capture the joy of reading. The author’s eclecticism finds him writing on many disparate subjects; Gaiman is as deft analyzing Batman and G.K. Chesterton as he is describing the plight of Syrian refugees in Jordan. The most meaningful piece is titled simply “Make Good Art”—the 2012 commencement address for the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The speech is in the same category as David Foster Wallace’s “This Is Water” in terms of wisdom per square inch. Gaiman’s words capture the importance of making art that is sincerely one’s own. With this volume, Gaiman has shown that his nonfiction rivals his much-lauded fiction. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (June)
Library Journal
★ 06/01/2016
Prolific, award-winning fiction, comics, film, and TV writer Gaiman (Neverwhere; American Gods; Stardust) stormed onto the literary scene in 1990 with the novel Good Omens, cowritten with Terry Pratchett of "Discworld" series fame. Gaiman's eclectic work has been a force majeure ever since. Over the years, he has authored dozens of essays, reviews, introductions, and remembrances—"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," writes Gaiman in a brief introduction—collected here. Despite the self-deprecating title, there's nothing at a distance or unearned about his observations. Gaiman's prose reveals the relaxed intimacy of a cherished dinner partner and never loses sight of the big picture. Included are thoughts on the importance of reading and literacy; notes on the roots of sf and fantasy; musings on music and making good art; heady, existential yawps on painting and identity; and a fitting tribute to Pratchett in the collection's capstone piece. VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert, 11/23/15; "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/15/16, p. 29.]—Patrick A. Smith, Bainbridge State Coll., GA
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-04-13
The acclaimed author shares his thoughts on stories of all kinds: books, comics, movies, music, and more. Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, 2015, etc.) is a fan. Of course, as a writer, he's created unforgettable worlds and characters, but in this collection of essays, introductions, speeches, and other nonfiction works, it's his fan side that comes through most strongly. The author writes about the thrill of discovering a piece of art that feels like it was made just for you; the way certain books or songs seem to slot into a place in your heart you didn't know was there; the way a text can mean different things at different times in your life. If the idea of going on a long, rambling walk with Gaiman and asking him about his influences sounds appealing, this is the book for you. He discusses art and life and arbitrary divisions between genres, the film The Bride of Frankenstein, the band They Might Be Giants, the war in Syria, and the work of Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, Cory Doctorow, H.P. Lovecraft, James Thurber, Douglas Adams, Harlan Ellison, G.K. Chesterton, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury, among plenty of others—and anything else that sparks his endlessly creative mind. The book will also double his fans' to-read lists and inspire readers to browse the secondhand sections in their favorite book or record shops. Gaiman is big on rereading. It's one of several themes that weave in and out of these pieces, in addition to telling the truth in fantastic forms, finding your voice, breaking the rules, and making something new. This is a book to dip in and out of; while themes and ideas do repeat, they will also change and take on new resonances over time. Gaiman's many fans will love this collection, which showcases the author's wit, wisdom, and deep appreciation for art and the people who make it.
Junot Díaz
“Full of devotion and erudition, this is also a glorious love-letter to reading, to writing, to dreaming, to an entire genre.”
Caitlin Moran
“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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062262264
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/31/2016
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
13,293
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.90(d)
Lexile:
1140L (what's this?)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, and is the recipient of numerous literary honors. Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of Birth:
November 10, 1960
Place of Birth:
Portchester, England
Education:
Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77
Website:
http://www.neilgaiman.com

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The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ZombieRinker 5 months ago
I love just about everything this man writes and this is the first non-fiction that I have read of his. I got the book from the library first and found it to be a treasure and not something I could read cover to cover but taking a essay every couple of days. Ended up buying it as this is something I can read more than once and find nuggets of gold. Highly recommend as it is thought provoking and this collection is not to be missed.
SheTreadsSoftly 9 months ago
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 age. 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. It's this: 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 anything." 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 youdo 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 purposes.