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)
Full of devotion and erudition, this is also a glorious love-letter to reading, to writing, to dreaming, to an entire genre.
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.
Full of devotion and erudition, this is also a glorious love-letter to reading, to writing, to dreaming, to an entire genre.”
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
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.