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A collection of speeches, articles, essays and introductions from Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author, commentator and craftsman Neil Gaiman. The View from the Cheap Seats draws together, for the first time ever, myriad non-fiction writing by international phenomenon and Sunday Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman. From Make Good Art, the speech he gave at th A collection of speeches, articles, essays and introductions from Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author, commentator and craftsman Neil Gaiman. The View from the Cheap Seats draws together, for the first time ever, myriad non-fiction writing by international phenomenon and Sunday Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman. From Make Good Art, the speech he gave at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia that went viral, to pieces on artists and legends including Terry Pratchett, Lou Reed and Ray Bradbury, 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. The View From the Cheap Seats will draw you in to these exchanges on making good art and Syrian refugees, the power of a single word and playing the kazoo with Stephen King, writing about books, comics and the imagination of friends, being sad at the Oscars and telling lies for a living. 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.


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A collection of speeches, articles, essays and introductions from Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author, commentator and craftsman Neil Gaiman. The View from the Cheap Seats draws together, for the first time ever, myriad non-fiction writing by international phenomenon and Sunday Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman. From Make Good Art, the speech he gave at th A collection of speeches, articles, essays and introductions from Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author, commentator and craftsman Neil Gaiman. The View from the Cheap Seats draws together, for the first time ever, myriad non-fiction writing by international phenomenon and Sunday Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman. From Make Good Art, the speech he gave at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia that went viral, to pieces on artists and legends including Terry Pratchett, Lou Reed and Ray Bradbury, 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. The View From the Cheap Seats will draw you in to these exchanges on making good art and Syrian refugees, the power of a single word and playing the kazoo with Stephen King, writing about books, comics and the imagination of friends, being sad at the Oscars and telling lies for a living. 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.

30 review for The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Once upon a time a writer sat in a large room and looked around. The words and papers that he had dreamed into existence had begun to clog the space. To get from his magic writing place to the world outside he had to push his way past words on stacks of paper that had grown so high that he was no longer able to see over the top to the door. Sometimes the lanes they had formed led him not to a door, but into a wall and he had to find his way back to the desk where he made the words, and start ove Once upon a time a writer sat in a large room and looked around. The words and papers that he had dreamed into existence had begun to clog the space. To get from his magic writing place to the world outside he had to push his way past words on stacks of paper that had grown so high that he was no longer able to see over the top to the door. Sometimes the lanes they had formed led him not to a door, but into a wall and he had to find his way back to the desk where he made the words, and start over. He began to wonder if the words had started shifting their locations while his back was turned, if they intended to keep him in his writing place, making more and more words and stories to keep them all company. One day a doll with button eyes that he kept on his desk stood up and told him that he really should do something about the growing menace if he wanted to be able to leave the room ever again. The writer was suitably terrified, and vowed to get right on it, concerned about the possibility that he was losing his shit. Neil Gaiman - from maskable I know nothing of Neil Gaiman’s living situation, of course. He may be the neatest person alive, a place for everything and everything in its place. Black shirt here, black pants there, black jacket over there. Another black shirt here, another black shirt here...While it is likely that his words are all nicely tucked away on hard drives, in clouds, on servers and disks of various ages and sorts, I envision stacks of paper hither and yon festooned with buzzing colonies of paper mites. Maybe his wife gives him the stink-eye about the piles, urging him to take some time and deal with the mess. So he bites the bullet one Saturday morning when the creative urge is at low ebb. He gathers a stack from here, a sheaf from there, and as I imagine anyone who writes might do, he reads some of the things he has written, some of them decades old. Not half bad, he might think, and he would be right. But in gathering all the material together, and now admiring the still dusty but paper free sections of floor that have become newly visible, and considering tying up all the paper for inclusion in the recycling bin, it occurs that they might be worthy of another form of recycling. Thus, newly energized, he begins to pore through the materials a second time, and in this pass, he makes three piles, keeper, on the fence, and toss, ties up the toss pile, and off to the bin it goes. Somehow the keeper and on–the-fence piles seem to magically move closer to each other until they are indistinguishable. The result is The View From the Cheap Seats, a compendium of mostly small bits from Gaiman’s large body of small non-fiction writings. They are divided into ten sections, but the fences bordering each are easily and frequently scaled. The largest element in the collection consists of introductions Gaiman has written for other writer’s books. They are all heartfelt, sometimes moving, and are infused with his personal experience of those writers, whether purely through their work, or, in many cases, through his relationships with them in the real world. I was reminded of Bill Clinton’s memoir, My Life, in which it seemed as if everyone he met had a huge and lasting impact on him. I am sure Gaiman means all the glowing things he says about the people he writes of here, but it does seem a bit much at times. Who didn’t impact your life? There are many speeches he has delivered, at commencements, at professional conferences, at award ceremonies. A fair bit of autobiography is tucked into the works, not enough to fill out a true version but enough to whet your appetite for more. He includes considerable advice on writing, both doing the actual writing, and coping with the external realities of writing professionally. I quite enjoy Neil Gaiman’s work (see linked reviews at bottom). He is a bright, articulate, thoughtful and creative sort. He has things to say and says them persuasively. But I have to concede that I enjoy Neil Gaiman the writer of fiction a fair bit more than I do Neil Gaiman, the writer of book intros, album liner notes, deliverer of commencement addresses and speechifier at sundry professional events. It is not that particular items included in this considerable compilation (I counted 84 individual pieces, but I could be off by a few) are not good. Most were at least somewhat interesting and a bunch were very interesting. Ok. A few were boring. There seems a redundancy to much of the material. I got the feeling one has on occasion after having listened to a song you really like about twenty times too many. The collection seemed too large, and would have been improved by some intelligent culling, down from over 500 to maybe 400 or even 350 pages. Gaiman is a prolific producer of product, very much like Stephen King (there is a nice interview with King in here) or Isaac Asimov (although he has nothing like Asimov’s range, not that anyone else does either). So even with such a large volume, odds are that there is material lying about to fill several more. So what are the upsides? Ok, you already know the guy is a pretty solid writer, so the quality of the writing is fine. Even though he is out of his power genre, he was a journalist and can crank out non-fic, no problem. He shares plenty of insights, particularly when making the case for the value of fantasy, although they sometimes sounded a bit emo: We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write. He writes about works that and writers who have influenced him, whether those influences were TV Programs (Dr Who), writers of comics (Will Eisner), or of books (Harlan Ellison, and many others), of children’s or adult fiction. I enjoyed his observations of the writing experience. There are details in this collection that will definitely enhance your appreciation for how some of his well-known creations came to be, the what-ifs that sparked the process. I write to find out what I think about something. I wrote American Gods because I had lived in America for almost a decade and felt it was time that I learned what I thought about it. I wrote Coraline because, when I was a child, I used to wonder what would happen if I went home and my parents had moved away without telling me. He offers insights into some other works of his, for instance Sandman and The Ocean of the End of the Lane. I quite enjoyed his tale of attending the Oscars when Coraline was nominated, and had exactly no chance of winning. Gaiman, a pretty well-known sort, was relegated to the relatively cheap seats, even though Coraline had received a nomination. Another tale, of his work on the film Mirrormask and then attending the opening at the Sundance festival, had a lovely stranger-in-a-strange-land feel. He includes some interaction with musicians, notably Lou Reed. And one of the two pieces about his now wife Amanda Palmer was quite interesting for it’s look at the strains of coping with the together-all-the-time relationships inherent in going on the road. I enjoyed his straight-up autobio pieces, including his childhood reading experiences and fondness for comics. You will come away from Cheap Seats with a nice list of authors you may want to check out, the product of the laudatory intros Gaiman wrote for books by or about them. I guarantee that, despite the considerable stack of household names, some of the writers he notes here will be new to you. There is enough good and very good material in the collection to justify checking it out. Even if you find yourself in a piece that might dull the senses, the next piece is only a couple of pages away and could be quite good. Neil Gaiman has done pretty well for himself and deservedly so. So one must take with a grain of salt a view from such a successful guy that purports to be from the cheap seats. Gaiman is a top notch author and if he is looking at the world from the cheap seats any place but at the Oscars he is probably slumming. You will definitely enjoy much of what is included in this large collection. But there is enough that seems duplicative, in tone if not always in content, that it keeps the collection from being quite row five, orchestra center. 3.5 rounded up to 4 Published 5/31/16 Review first posted – 6/3/16 =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter, FB and Tumblr pages I also reviewed Gaiman's -----Stardust, briefly, a few back -----The Graveyard Book more fully in October 2012. -----The Ocean at the End of the Lane in August 2013 -----Trigger Warning in March 2015 Other bits by the author ----- Gaiman’s advice on writing -----A talk for The Long Now Foundation - How Stories Last -----Gaiman’s author pep talk for NaNoWriMo

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    The first essay is about books & libraries & why they're both so important. I cried. That's it. That's my review. An essay made me cry. Thanks, Neil Gaiman. Thanks. The first essay is about books & libraries & why they're both so important. I cried. That's it. That's my review. An essay made me cry. Thanks, Neil Gaiman. Thanks.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lee Ann

    After reading this book, I wonder if I've been missing out all these years because I usually skip introductions. But then again, this is Neil Gaiman we're talking about, and I've never encountered one of his until now. To be fair, Gaiman is one of my favorite authors ever. I feel about him the way I did about C.S. Lewis as a kid. Thanks to his Twitter feed and his blog, I've picked up books based on the authors he's mentioned, so it was cool to recognize some of those people along this particula After reading this book, I wonder if I've been missing out all these years because I usually skip introductions. But then again, this is Neil Gaiman we're talking about, and I've never encountered one of his until now. To be fair, Gaiman is one of my favorite authors ever. I feel about him the way I did about C.S. Lewis as a kid. Thanks to his Twitter feed and his blog, I've picked up books based on the authors he's mentioned, so it was cool to recognize some of those people along this particular journey. "The View From the Cheap Seats" isn't all book introductions, but it is all non-fiction, and it's great stuff. His speeches are in here, as well as articles he's written over the years. I've learned what feels like loads more about him, and my to-read list has grown scary-large. Pick this up if you're a fan of Gaiman's work. Pick this up if you're looking for more books to read. Pick this up if you need some inspiration and art in your life. Just pick it up.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    “Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different." I have so much respect for Neil Gaiman. I don’t like everything he writes, though I do believe he is one of the most talented writers alive today. “Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different." I have so much respect for Neil Gaiman. I don’t like everything he writes, though I do believe he is one of the most talented writers alive today. Gaiman is funny and smart. Gaiman is wise and creative, but most importantly he is multi-talented. His books appeal directly to children, though he is far from being just a children’s author. He writes fantasy, though I would not call him a fantasy novelist. Gaiman is Gaiman. I think his real success resides in his mastery of tone and his ability to switch between the serious and the silly, sometimes using both at the same time. For me though, I absolutely love the way his books appeal to young people and have the ability to get people seriously into reading; yet, none of their literary merit is sacrificed in the process. He is undeniably a master of the craft. This book has a huge selection of non-fiction pieces in. One of my favourites was his energetic and highly compelling lecture on libraries and why they are so important for society. Before Gaiman was a writer, he was a reader. Not just your standard type of reader, those who just read in one genre or a few books a year, but the kind that reads everything and anything. By the sounds of things, he spent most of his childhood reading in his local libraries. Clearly this has given him enough knowledge to tackle huge themes within his writing. Start young folks! “You don’t discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is the gateway drug to other books you may prefer them to read. And not everyone has the same taste as you.” He offers musing on art and films, including many previously published pieces. And this is the only issue I have to raise about this book: nothing is new. Gaiman has brought together essays, introductions written for other books, articles and other previously published pieces all in one collection. Some of it will be familiar for his readers, and some bits they will have missed. I’ve read a few of the bits and pieces over the years, but there was enough in here that I hadn’t read to make the collection feel worth the purchase. The View Behind the Cheap Seats is also very personal; it reveals much about Gaiman as a man and as an artist. If you read enough of the bits in here, you will see some of his creative process and hear the advice he has to share for other writers. You will also see whom he owes debts to, to which writers inspired him and influenced him artistically. Most touching of all was his comments on his friendship with the late great Sir Terry Pratchett; it was worth reading the book for these bits alone. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend this to new readers, I do really think that lovers of his fiction will also love this. I certainly had fun reading it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    I picked up A View From the Cheap Seats, selected non-fiction, Neil Gaiman’s 2016 collection of essays, sketches, introductions, speeches, etc. simply because it was Gaiman’s latest publication. I was compelled, I must read it. I began and realized what it was, not fiction but non-fiction essays, and saw the thickness of it (522 pages) and decided that I would give it a try, but I was more in the mood for a fiction just now and though I like Neil and his opinions, I would likely try this again la I picked up A View From the Cheap Seats, selected non-fiction, Neil Gaiman’s 2016 collection of essays, sketches, introductions, speeches, etc. simply because it was Gaiman’s latest publication. I was compelled, I must read it. I began and realized what it was, not fiction but non-fiction essays, and saw the thickness of it (522 pages) and decided that I would give it a try, but I was more in the mood for a fiction just now and though I like Neil and his opinions, I would likely try this again later. Then I read about some authors he knows and some books he likes and then some music and musicians, and before I know it, I am breezing through this book of thoughts and musings tied up in the ideas of a speech or book report, or words on a jacket cover, or couched in terms of a tribute to someone and I like this book for the same reason I like my book club and why I like Goodreads: it is a discussion about books, and writing and reading. Readers know that we are an odd lot. There is more than a fair share of introspection, lots of lovers of quiet and more than a sampling of … unusual folks. But what we all share is a love of all things literary, regardless of genre. Here on GR a fan of westerns can share some thoughts with a SF reader and a great lover of romance can also learn about some heady 60s pulp. And we can all expand our reading lists like trying something new at a buffet. Gaiman demonstrates that he is one of us. In A View From the Cheap Seats, Gaiman reveals what he loves about fantasy writing, what he looks for in books, his passions, his interests and that thread of the written word and the ideas and imaginations that pulls it all together. Some of my favorite sections are about his friendships with Terry Pratchett, Gene Wolfe and Tori Amos. We learn of his fascination with Lovecraft and Tolkien. As he was also a journalist before he became a bestselling author, we also read about his interviews with such diverse luminaries as Ray Bradbury and Lou Reed. For those of you who care about ratings I can tell you honestly that this had a three-star rating until the last 10 pages of the book. A 3-star rating for me is a good rating and means I like the book and enjoyed it. The last essay in the book was of Neil Gaiman’s eulogy of his friend Sir Terry Pratchett. I'm a 47 year old American male who strives for an old-school brand of tough guy and I am writing these words unabashedly admitting that tears were rolling down my cheeks as I read Gaiman’s sincere, heartfelt and touching statements about how he simply missed his friend. This essay above all others is what I will take with me from this work and that alone earned this book my fourth star. Maybe just for Gaiman fans, but also for READERS of all shapes and sizes – he too is a reader, and belongs to this great population of thinkers, wordsmiths, daydreamers and escape artists.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    These are basically a collection of previously published essays and ideas ranging to his love of art, people, and the more basic of life's requirements like books and love, but more than that, it's basically an affirmation and a solid grounding in what should be quite evident from anyone who has read his work: Life is and should be about the joy we take in it. Oh, and we get a lot of great book reviews from Gaiman, himself, a lot of which I've got skewered on my To-Read list. I mean, who does that These are basically a collection of previously published essays and ideas ranging to his love of art, people, and the more basic of life's requirements like books and love, but more than that, it's basically an affirmation and a solid grounding in what should be quite evident from anyone who has read his work: Life is and should be about the joy we take in it. Oh, and we get a lot of great book reviews from Gaiman, himself, a lot of which I've got skewered on my To-Read list. I mean, who does that, read reviews about books, anyway? Seriously. His enthusiasm, above all, is infectious, and that's kinda rather the point. Oh, and he's still, after all these years, a dedicated and thorough blind man to the effect he has on us, which is rather a useful tool since so many of us tend to look up to him. I'm sure a lot of us might have knocked him down a few rungs, but no, he's modest. Did I mention charming? Yeah. That too. :) This is pretty much a must read for anyone who likes to read about why their favorite authors like to write, too. So lap it up, you dogs. :) Enjoy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Swaroop Kanti

    A wonderful nonfiction by Neil Gaiman! The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction will increase your love and affection for Neil Gaiman, and, also for books and for literature, and for how beautiful, safe and peaceful this world can be with books and literature - a sense of wonder !! not-to-be-missed A wonderful nonfiction by Neil Gaiman! The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction will increase your love and affection for Neil Gaiman, and, also for books and for literature, and for how beautiful, safe and peaceful this world can be with books and literature - a sense of wonder !! not-to-be-missed

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    Some of the pieces made me cry. Some made me wonder. Some inspired me. Having them read by Neil Gaiman rocked my world.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Quann

    If you identify as any sort of geek, then you've probably dabbled in some of Neil Gaiman's evocative, fantastical fiction. If you're anything like me, you've found yourself caught in a YouTube vortex of Neil Gaiman interviews, speeches, and discussions. Gaiman's a fantastic speaker: he's charismatic, he's kind, he's notoriously modest, and he speaks and writes with palpable enthusiasm. If you've ever sat back and heard/watched Gaiman speak and thought, This guy's really got a handle on it all, h If you identify as any sort of geek, then you've probably dabbled in some of Neil Gaiman's evocative, fantastical fiction. If you're anything like me, you've found yourself caught in a YouTube vortex of Neil Gaiman interviews, speeches, and discussions. Gaiman's a fantastic speaker: he's charismatic, he's kind, he's notoriously modest, and he speaks and writes with palpable enthusiasm. If you've ever sat back and heard/watched Gaiman speak and thought, This guy's really got a handle on it all, hasn't he?, then The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction is exactly the book for you. More specifically, it is the audiobook for you, as after listening to Gaiman for 16+ hours, it's hard to imagine reading this book. Gaiman's voice was a soothing balm on the internet-scorched skin of my mind. Where much of the news is doom, gloom, and humans doing terrible things to one another, Gaiman reminds the reader of wonder, enthusiasm, and the importance of stories. Gaiman spurs into motion the act of hunting a *ahem* good read and is able to capture the feeling of being wrapped up in a novel. For the most part, that's what this audiobook is about: why it's important to read and discuss good stories. Why stories are more than diversions from our day-to-day, and how all different genres satisfy those needs in different ways. This is an assortment of essays, speeches, commentaries, reviews, obituaries, and articles for magazines that have few commonalities other than an author and being about stories. Though I can't say I enjoyed everything (I don't know if I've heard a Tori Amos song, but I certainly wasn't familiar enough to love that piece), there was nothing that I hated. If there's a complaint to lodge against the book its that it repeats itself. You'll find Gaiman recycle personal stories between speeches, and this can make for a bit of frustration as you wait out something you've already heard before. It's rather like the experience of listening to a familial story that your uncle just can't seem to give up: you may have heard it before, and it's a bit tedious, but it's a bit comforting too. An unexpected boon from this book was a slew of new additions to the TBR pile. If you take a look back on the last 10 or 20 books I've added, they were likely recommended in some way by this book. Gaiman discusses novels that have influenced him, important novels of various genres, and obscure texts from which many of our stories are drawn. As I seem to be on quite the sci-fi kick right now, this was a welcome introduction to many classics of the genre that I would have missed or overlooked otherwise. There are few enough books that beget more books, but this is one of them. I'm not sure that everyone would enjoy this entire audiobook, but I guarantee that there's something for everybody in this collection. Though I listened to the entire thing, you could do a bit of skipping around to the parts you think you'd like. There's bits about the importance of libraries, dead authors, living authors, books Gaiman wrote, TV shows Gaiman liked as a child, a long-form on Stephen King (that makes me want to give up whatever sort of pretense was keeping me from reading King), the Syrian refugee crisis, making movies, attending conventions, dreaming, loving, listening, reading, writing, and, of course, some book reviews. Definitely worth checking out!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I have contradictory opinions on fiction vs non-fiction. On one hand, I believe all good fiction is a direct form of communication between the author and the reader -- authors speak, readers respond and ask questions, and sometimes the author answers the question, but sometimes the author turns around and asks the reader a question -- all within the space of a novel. But I also believe that good fiction can exist completely without the readers - like the proverbial tree that falls in an unoccupi I have contradictory opinions on fiction vs non-fiction. On one hand, I believe all good fiction is a direct form of communication between the author and the reader -- authors speak, readers respond and ask questions, and sometimes the author answers the question, but sometimes the author turns around and asks the reader a question -- all within the space of a novel. But I also believe that good fiction can exist completely without the readers - like the proverbial tree that falls in an unoccupied forest. I know there's millions of good stories in the world that are wholly not dependent on my existance at all. I will never read most of them, yet they are still good stories. And with many good stories, even as I'm reading them, I know that they would remain an excellent story if I never came along and read it. With non-fiction, though, I believe it truly IS a conversation dependent on the reader. With most good fiction, I usually feel as if I've stumbled into a room where an author was telling a story, and I could leave, shut the door, and the story would still exist. Non-fiction always leaves me with the feeling that the author just proclaimed, "HEY. Amy. I'm talking to you. Come here. I have things to say." And if I shut the book, they remain unsaid. I'm not sure myself what I'm trying to say in this review. I think it's that even if you don't consider yourself a reader of non-fiction, you should read this book, because there are things that need to be said and things that you ought to hear.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation, and new people, new readers, need to be brought into the conversation too. I would highly recommend the first ninety pages of this collection. Here, Gaiman discusses his love of literature, libraries, and librarians, including some of his childhood favorites and influences. For book lovers, these essays are pure joy. As to the remaining pages, your enjoyment will depend upon your interest in each part Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation, and new people, new readers, need to be brought into the conversation too. I would highly recommend the first ninety pages of this collection. Here, Gaiman discusses his love of literature, libraries, and librarians, including some of his childhood favorites and influences. For book lovers, these essays are pure joy. As to the remaining pages, your enjoyment will depend upon your interest in each particular author or recording artist being scrutinized. If you can't get enough of Diana Wynne Jones, Harlan Ellison, or Tori Amos, you should be a happy camper. I found reading them to be good way of engendering a much needed afternoon nap.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Natalia Yaneva

    Bulgarian review below/Ревюто на български е по-долу Neil Gaiman is a gold nugget. A fragment of volcanic rock. A drop of mercury. Nibiru. A bit dark, very elusive, way too amorphous. He will tell you what it’s like to attend the Oscars, tucked away in the first mezzanine, and to win nothing, he may also relate what it’s like to be at the concert of his wife’s apocryphal punk cabaret band and feel like a winner. ‘The View from the Cheap Seats’ is the story of an eternal flirt and one great lov Bulgarian review below/Ревюто на български е по-долу Neil Gaiman is a gold nugget. A fragment of volcanic rock. A drop of mercury. Nibiru. A bit dark, very elusive, way too amorphous. He will tell you what it’s like to attend the Oscars, tucked away in the first mezzanine, and to win nothing, he may also relate what it’s like to be at the concert of his wife’s apocryphal punk cabaret band and feel like a winner. ‘The View from the Cheap Seats’ is the story of an eternal flirt and one great love. Okay, maybe several great loves. Do not be mistaken that it’s a collection of non-fiction, as the title says. The flirt is with life and death and everything in between. Or as Gaiman himself would tell you, the only subjects of art are sex and death. And love... it’s for books, for words that are sprinkled on pages and hide in their corners, for ideas that light a match and ignite the gunpowder trail to the imagination and especially to strangeness. Neil Gaiman would willingly give you an ode to oddity to hang it above your bed. I met Gaiman for the first time long ago with his lovely and macabre children’s poem ‘The Dangerous Alphabet’ illustrated by Gris Grimly. Needless to say, I fell in love with them both and will be true to them unto death. Gaiman is a multifaceted author – he will take you for a walk from comics through children’s novels to mythology (and back I suppose) and will pull at least one thread in your soul. I haven’t read many of his stuff yet. Somehow instinctively, I wanted to get to know the man behind the writer’s mask because I felt there were things I could learn. I listened in the dark how he told me about his passion for comics, how he had saved money through a whole term at school to go and spend it all on comics, and how he almost got mugged on his way to the store. I drank in his admiration for other authors, for various eccentric artists with whom he had worked. I peeked behind the exquisite screen of his friendship with Tori Amos, who ‘sings like an angel and rocks like a red-haired demon.’ Like Neil, I also hope the pumpkin ice cream doesn’t melt before they find each other. I briefly shared his admiration for Lou Reed, ‘a real rock star,’ because he tells his fans to shut up while trying to tune his guitar. I even followed Neil to a refugee camp in Syria. Because stories stride all over the world and feel cozy in places where they’re least expected to be. Neil Gaiman is one of those humane writers who gently cup your heart and slowly squeeze valuable drops of blood out of it. He makes you smile or smear the ink on the page with a tear, then blot it quickly and guiltily. He makes you ponder how big the world is and how much you don’t know. Sometimes, the view from the cheap seats in life is not so bad. ‘I suspect that the next generation to come along will puzzle over our agonies, much as I puzzled over the death of the Victorian music halls as a child, and much as I felt sorry for the performers who had only needed thirteen minutes of material in their whole life, and who did their thirteen minutes in town after town until the day that television came along and killed it all.’ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Нийл Геймън е късче самородно злато. Отломък от вулканична скала. Капчица живак. Нибиру. Малко мрачен, много неуловим, твърде аморфен. Може да ви разкаже какво е да присъстваш на Оскар-ите и да не спечелиш нищо, забутан в партера, може и да ви опише какво e да си на концерт на апокрифната пънк кабаре група на жена му и да се чувстваш победител. ‘The View from the Cheap Seats’ разказва за един вечен флирт и една голяма любов. Добре де, може би няколко големи любови. Не се подвеждайте, че това е сбирка с нехудожествено творчество, както гласи заглавието. Флиртът е с живота и смъртта и всичко помежду тях. Или както би ви казал и самият Геймън, единствените теми на изкуството са сексът и смъртта. А любовта… тя е към книгите, към думите, които се посипват по страниците и се крият по ъгълчетата им, към идеите, които драсват клечката кибрит на барутната диря към въображението и най-вече към странността. Нийл Геймън с охота би ви подарил ода за необичайното, за да си я закачите над леглото. За пръв път се запознах с Геймън доста отдавна с прелестната и мрачна детска поема ‘The Dangerous Alphabet’ , илюстрирана от Грис Гримли. Излишно е да казвам, че се влюбих и в двамата до гроб. Геймън е многостранен автор – ще ви разходи от комикси през детски романи до митология (предполагам и обратно) и ще успее да подръпне поне една нишка в душата ви. Все още не съм чела много негови неща. Някак инстинктивно ми се щеше да поопозная човека зад маската на писателя, защото усетих, че има какво да науча. Послушах в тъмното как ми разказва за страстта си към комиксите, как е събирал пари през целия срок в училище, за да отиде и да ги похарчи всичките за списания и как едва не са го обрали по пътя. Попих възхищението му от други автори, от различни ексцентрични творци, с които е работил. Надникнах зад изящния параван на приятелството му с Тори Амос, която пее като ангел и куфее като червенокос демон. И аз като Нийл се надявам тиквеният сладолед да не се разтопи, преди да се намерят. За кратко споделих възхитата му към Лу Рийд, „истинска рок звезда“, защото казва на феновете си да млъкнат, докато си настройва китарата. Последвах Нийл дори в лагер за бежанци в Сирия. Защото историите крачат навсякъде по света и се чувстват уютно и на места, където най-малко очаквате да ги намерите. Нийл Геймън е от онези човеколюбиви автори, които съвсем внимателно ти хващат сърцето в шепа и полека изстискват ценни капки кръв. Кара те да се усмихваш или да размажеш мастилото по страницата с някоя сълза, после бързо и виновно да си я попиеш. Кара те да се замислиш колко е голям светът и колко неща не знаеш. Понякога от евтините места в живота сцената на мъдростта не се вижда чак толкова зле. ‘I suspect that the next generation to come along will puzzle over our agonies, much as I puzzled over the death of the Victorian music halls as a child, and much as I felt sorry for the performers who had only needed thirteen minutes of material in their whole life, and who did their thirteen minutes in town after town until the day that television came along and killed it all.’

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jewel

    It's truly lovely when one of your revered authors is also a wonderful human being. For me, Neil Gaiman's one of those writers. As a fan, I was delighted to see Neil's selected essays, speeches, articles, and introductions (for other well-respected writers, artists, and musicians) in one book. I found some of the contents familiar because they were all over the net when they were published, but I also missed a fair amount, so this book still had fun and new tidbits for me. Some of my newly disco It's truly lovely when one of your revered authors is also a wonderful human being. For me, Neil Gaiman's one of those writers. As a fan, I was delighted to see Neil's selected essays, speeches, articles, and introductions (for other well-respected writers, artists, and musicians) in one book. I found some of the contents familiar because they were all over the net when they were published, but I also missed a fair amount, so this book still had fun and new tidbits for me. Some of my newly discovered favorites were Neil's thoughts on Tori Amos, his Oscar Awards experience, and his and Amanda Palmer's friendship with Anthony. Of course it was also fun to reread his more famous works, like the ones about making mistakes and making good art (that only you can). As expected, the parts involving Terry Pratchett made me laugh and broke my heart all over again. What I really love about Neil's writing - fiction or non-fiction - is that the magic never fades. Even when it came to the books that I wasn't crazy about the first time, there was always something that compelled me to reread because I felt like I only caught a glimpse of the magic the first time and it's not enough. As for the books that I love, the magic changes shape every time I reread, and that's the kind of magic that inspires me as a reader. Like a kid who's seen a complex magic trick for the first time, I want to see even more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    In the launching event for this book Neil Gaiman said that there have been many more writings of his that could have been included (and that he admires the woman who chose which piece would make it into this book and which should be left out since it was a lot of work), but if this book was any thicker it would have to get registered as a weapon. I think he was wrong. This IS a weapon. A weapon is something dangerous, something you can kill people with and this book certainly fits that descripti In the launching event for this book Neil Gaiman said that there have been many more writings of his that could have been included (and that he admires the woman who chose which piece would make it into this book and which should be left out since it was a lot of work), but if this book was any thicker it would have to get registered as a weapon. I think he was wrong. This IS a weapon. A weapon is something dangerous, something you can kill people with and this book certainly fits that description. It's not so much the size, though, or the number of pages or weight; it's the content. This book collects speeches and musings and tidbits from the famous author about all manner of things. We get some of his introductions to other books, some speeches he gave because of tragic world events such as the Charlie Hebdo massacre, commencement speeches at universities, and much more. I had no idea Neil Gaiman knew so many famous people who were so important for all areas of art. Equally, I had no idea how many introductions he had written or how many interviews he had conducted. The fact, however, that he had worked with so many different people from so many different areas on art, and the fact that he himself has basically done everything (novels, short stories, audiobooks, comics, movies, ...) means that he gives the reader a unique insight into these worlds. The book also shows how compassionate and still down-to-earth Neil Gaiman is, how human. He is a hopeless optimist and although I can unfortunately not always relate, it is kind of intoxicating, if only for a little while. My favourite part here in this book, much to my astonishment, was not about his good friends Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams (who mean a lot to this little reader), but about Anthony. Anthony was Amanda Palmer's (Neil's wife's) best friend and father-figure. I knew of his illness through updates on Twitter and Facebook and although they were very dark, I loved Neil Gaiman's musings on Death. More than once I shed a tear while reading this book. So here are three of my favourite parts: [...]fiction was an escape from the untolerable, a doorway into impossibly hospitable worlds where things had rules and could be understood; stories had been a way of learning about life without experiencing it, or perhaps of experiencing it as an eighteenth-century poisoner dealt with poisons, taking them in tiny doses, such that the poisoner could cope with ingesting things that would kill someone who was not inured to them. Sometimes fiction is a way of coping with the poison of the world in a way that lets us survive it. [...]Do not give either of us [Anthony and Neil Gaiman] gifts: give us the tale that accompanies the gift. That is what makes the gift worth having. [...]as I said, it is the tales that accompany the gift that matter: the stories that show us the joy of event, of the shaping of memories, and the joy of a life lived, as all lives are lived, both in the light and the darkness. And here is Neil Gaiman's credo in honour of the Charlie Hebdo event: as well as a link to the video where he reads the entire thing (the picture shows the short version) also in light of the shooting in Denmark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8k0d... For any fan of this author this is un-missable. However, it is also great for anyone who has not read any NG book yet because, in my humble opinion, he is a very nice human being - not without faults, but real and interesting and intelligent. I would very much love to meet him in person and have a long conversation with him, but since that is probably very unrealistic, this book got me as close to that experience as possible. P.S.: I have the printed version and the audiobook, which Neil Gaiman narrated himself - I recommend the audiobook wholeheartedly since Neil Gaiman's voice and especially his personifications are marvellous!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Orey

    I sat down to read what Neil Gaiman had to say about Diana Wynn Jones and ended up reading everything else! I'm a big fan of Gaiman's fiction, but I didn't realize before that he has such a great nonfiction style too. This book made me want to read a ton more books! His recommendations are very strong. For me, that's all I could possibly want from a book like this. (And he said a lot of nice things about Diana Wynn Jones too.)

  16. 4 out of 5

    M. Donner

    I will be willing to do anything within (legal) means to get a ARC of this book. Signed, A Poor Librarian (Who perhaps cannot wait until May 31st.)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kati

    Neil Gaiman can do no wrong

  18. 4 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    Unlike what you're probably supposed to do, I read this selection of Neil Gaiman's non fiction from A to Z (over a couple of weeks, mind you). I didn't skip any texts, and I found that even though some of the chapters dealt with people I didn't know of or had any interest in, I still took something with me after having read them. Having now finished his non fictional collection of speeches, thoughts, introductions and more from one of the most fascinating fantasy writers I know, I don't know if Unlike what you're probably supposed to do, I read this selection of Neil Gaiman's non fiction from A to Z (over a couple of weeks, mind you). I didn't skip any texts, and I found that even though some of the chapters dealt with people I didn't know of or had any interest in, I still took something with me after having read them. Having now finished his non fictional collection of speeches, thoughts, introductions and more from one of the most fascinating fantasy writers I know, I don't know if reading it from beginning to end is the best way to read it. Maybe it would've been better for me to pick and choose, put it back on the shelves and pick it up some time later. However, my stubborness didn't allow for me to do that - once I started it, I wanted to finish it. The text that moved me the most was actually the title story: "The View from the Cheap Seats" is about Neil Gaiman feeling lonely and melancholy, attending the Oscars on the one-year anniversary of his father's death. However, a lot of the other texts moved me as well, and Gaiman's fascination for science fiction almost convinced me to pick up a bunch of science fiction books and start reading. For all of the above-mentioned reasons, I rate this collection three stars. It is definitely a fascinating read, and while it has its dull and uninteresting moments, it also serves you with a lot of interesting and inspiring thoughts on life, literature and love for stories.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jared Millet

    Well, that was a blast. One of the blurbs on the back describes this book as having Neil Gaiman all to yourself for a long one-on-one conversation. It's not quite that. It's more like attending a Neil Gaiman Convention with panels and tracks on every field in which Gaiman has dabbled and where every speaker is Gaiman himself (with special guest Lou Reed). For someone who's definitely become the Rock Star of fantasy literature, NG comes across as humble, gracious, and charmingly self-deprecating. Well, that was a blast. One of the blurbs on the back describes this book as having Neil Gaiman all to yourself for a long one-on-one conversation. It's not quite that. It's more like attending a Neil Gaiman Convention with panels and tracks on every field in which Gaiman has dabbled and where every speaker is Gaiman himself (with special guest Lou Reed). For someone who's definitely become the Rock Star of fantasy literature, NG comes across as humble, gracious, and charmingly self-deprecating. Also, like Jo Walton's What Makes This Book So Great , this book will do bad things to your Goodreads list. As a librarian, I found this book particularly timely and inspirational. It was published (and I got my copy) during the first week of Summer Reading 2016, when our libraries are overrun by hordes of screaming brats wonderful children. Gaiman opens with a piece on the value and importance of libraries: a better pep talk I've never had.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    So glad I listened to the audio! (Special thanks for Amy Finnegan, who recommended it as an audiobook!) Having Neil Gaiman essentially deliver the speeches again, or do voices like Lou Reed and Stephen King as he recreates his interviews with them, was totally engaging. Loved what he had to say about writing. Loved his passion for books and music and film. Loved getting to hear him give his Newbery acceptance and Make Good Art speeches. Some of the articles dragged on a bit, I will admit. And wh So glad I listened to the audio! (Special thanks for Amy Finnegan, who recommended it as an audiobook!) Having Neil Gaiman essentially deliver the speeches again, or do voices like Lou Reed and Stephen King as he recreates his interviews with them, was totally engaging. Loved what he had to say about writing. Loved his passion for books and music and film. Loved getting to hear him give his Newbery acceptance and Make Good Art speeches. Some of the articles dragged on a bit, I will admit. And while I am now resolved to read The King of Elfland's Daughter and several other books that he recommended, I still am not interested in Dr Who, but that's fine. I think this is a must for booklovers and for writers as well as Gaiman fans. It gives you a very interesting inside look at how Gaiman's mind works, or why authors like Lovecraft or Poe continue to draw readers, and I found the oddest bits inspiring, like descriptions of a portrait of the Bronte sisters. The one thing I will never understand is Amanda Palmer. I'm sorry, but there it is. I do not see how someone who can write so lushly and passionately about the subtleties of the Pre-Raphaelites or Edgar Allan Poe can also write in the same glowing terms about someone whose songs consist mostly of her screaming the f-word and banging on a piano with her feet. I mean, I just. Don't. Get. It. So be warned that there are several articles he wrote about her . . . ahem, music . . . and liner notes for her albums in here. Just FYI.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Char

    This audio, read by Neil himself, was interesting-depending upon the subject being discussed. For myself, I loved the essays and speeches about Terry Pratchett, (that one was my favorite and it even made me tear up), comics, Fritz Leiber, myths and music, (especially the Lou Reed piece). I was not so much interested in the essays, introductions and speeches regarding people that I had no interest in and/or no knowledge of. This was a very long collection and I did find my mind drifting quite a b This audio, read by Neil himself, was interesting-depending upon the subject being discussed. For myself, I loved the essays and speeches about Terry Pratchett, (that one was my favorite and it even made me tear up), comics, Fritz Leiber, myths and music, (especially the Lou Reed piece). I was not so much interested in the essays, introductions and speeches regarding people that I had no interest in and/or no knowledge of. This was a very long collection and I did find my mind drifting quite a bit. I love Neil Gaiman, but I think I love him the most when he's telling fictional stories.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    True confession: this is the first Neil Gaiman book I've read. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. And it won't be the last. I enjoy non-fiction, especially memoir and I expected this to be a bang up memoir. I was wrong. Not about it being a bang up book, but about it being a typical memoir. From what I've learned, nothing Neil Gaiman does is typical. Instead, the book is a compilation of various talks, interviews, and writing that Gaiman has done primarily for the benefit of others. For example, he wr True confession: this is the first Neil Gaiman book I've read. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. And it won't be the last. I enjoy non-fiction, especially memoir and I expected this to be a bang up memoir. I was wrong. Not about it being a bang up book, but about it being a typical memoir. From what I've learned, nothing Neil Gaiman does is typical. Instead, the book is a compilation of various talks, interviews, and writing that Gaiman has done primarily for the benefit of others. For example, he writes introductions for esteemed colleagues new books or for new anthologies. Or alternately, he tells about talks he gave to various gatherings. Through these, the reader does indeed get to know quite a lot about Gaiman from his childhood to the present day. He is a masterful storyteller and will make you chuckle at muggings and bookshop visits. You may even tear up as he shares private moments with treasured friends. Gaiman offers thoughts for readers to ponder: "I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.” He has encouraging words for writers and artists: “Another piece of advice: I've learned over the years that everything is more or less the same amount of work. So you may as well set your sights high and try and do something really cool. There are other people around who can do the mediocre meat and potatoes work that anybody can do. So let them do that. You make the art that only you can make. You tell the stories only you can tell.” All wrapped up in his perspective on being human: "We all have stories. Or perhaps it's because, as humans, we are already an assemblage of stories and the gulf that exists between us as people is that when we look at each other we might see faces, skin color, gender, race, or attitudes. But we don't see - we can't see the stories. And once we hear each other's stories, we realize the things we see as dividing us are all too often illusions; falsehoods. That the walls between us are, in truth, no thicker than scenery.” "Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything. Having a place the story starts and a place it's going, that's important. Telling your story as honestly as you can and leaving out the things you don't need, that's vital.” Through reading this book, I learned about comics and graphic novels. I learned about about fantasy and speculative fiction. I amassed a large list of books for my TBR list. I learned about Neil, and most especially about the people who influenced him.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jay Green

    Rather disappointed with this, tbh. I was hoping for something insightful, for some personality, for some originality. There's the odd flicker, and some interesting observations on the process of writing, here and there, but sadly this amounts to little more than a collection of forewords, prefaces, and commencement speeches, each of which covers more or less the same ground or offers overviews of writers and their works without saying anything startling, specific, or original. There are plenty Rather disappointed with this, tbh. I was hoping for something insightful, for some personality, for some originality. There's the odd flicker, and some interesting observations on the process of writing, here and there, but sadly this amounts to little more than a collection of forewords, prefaces, and commencement speeches, each of which covers more or less the same ground or offers overviews of writers and their works without saying anything startling, specific, or original. There are plenty of anecdotes about occasions when he met the authors in question - the go-to Gaiman approach, it would appear, when writing a profile - only one of which was particularly powerful - his encounter with Terry Pratchett - and it happened to be the one I'd read before, since it opens Pratchett's nonfiction collection. The title essay is worth a read, though, for Gaiman's account of the Oscars ceremony. My nephew worked on the movie Coraline and didn't even get within a hundred miles, so I can understand Gaiman's frustration!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Initial reaction: I don't think I could give this less than five stars. It's such a great collection of speeches and essays from Gaiman, and I admire his honesty, knowledge and distinct voice (not to mention his spot on humor in places). I don't think I could write a long enough review to express how much takeaway I had from this book. Full review: Have I told all of you how much I love Neil Gaiman? As a writer/narrator/comic writer/general purveyor of writerly wisdoms? No? Well, I suppose this is Initial reaction: I don't think I could give this less than five stars. It's such a great collection of speeches and essays from Gaiman, and I admire his honesty, knowledge and distinct voice (not to mention his spot on humor in places). I don't think I could write a long enough review to express how much takeaway I had from this book. Full review: Have I told all of you how much I love Neil Gaiman? As a writer/narrator/comic writer/general purveyor of writerly wisdoms? No? Well, I suppose this is one opportunity I can expound, and this book provides a plethora of reasons behind that appreciation. "The View from the Cheap Seats" is a non-fiction work that takes several selections from speeches, articles, introductions to compilations, among other works that Gaiman has written/contributed over his multiple decades long career. He discusses everything from his writings to films he's created to the significance of libraries, creating fiction for children, to his favorite authors and meetings with them and then some. It's both a personal and professional journey that while not a comprehensive selection of all the work he's done (and he says this in his introduction), it provides a look at many pieces that are important to him. I feel like I just got thrown headfirst into many different aspects of his career and persona just from this compilation alone, and it's well organized by titular headings that group his essays, speeches and introductions. "Some Things I Believe", "Music and the People Who Make It", etc. He has a very distinct and very identifiable voice in all of his narratives - fiction and not - and I'll admit his humor never fails to make me chuckle or that he gets me to think on another level with certain things he speaks upon. His dedication to many different authors in this compilation (Terry Prachett, Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury, to name a few) really struck home with me. I'll admit there were also authors in here that he's made mention of that are new to me, and I'm glad to be able to have more works to pick up in curiosity for that. I think my favorite selection in this entire narrative is the speech he delivered in 2013: "Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming: The Reading Agency Lecture." There was so much about that speech that was spot. on. About literacy, about reading to children, about the value of fiction. In general, this compilation has so many points where I could highlight phrases and post quotations on walls to reflect how much meaning they had for me and my own experiences as a reader, writer, and lover of media. I read the book as a source for inspiration for Camp NaNo in July and it ended up being the perfect read for inspiration and takeaway. I own this in my library and I definitely see myself re-reading it again. For added experience: get the audiobook. He's the narrator. :) Overall score: 5/5 stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    I have admired Neil Gaiman for many years without actually having read any of his books. I am not a reader of either graphic novels or science fiction, both respected genres, just not my thing. Then I saw this book of essays in the bookstore and figured this was my chance, a chance I am very glad to have taken. These essays are divided into subjects, beginning with pieces about the love of books and reading, and our need to foster and protect these privileges. There are also sections on music, ar I have admired Neil Gaiman for many years without actually having read any of his books. I am not a reader of either graphic novels or science fiction, both respected genres, just not my thing. Then I saw this book of essays in the bookstore and figured this was my chance, a chance I am very glad to have taken. These essays are divided into subjects, beginning with pieces about the love of books and reading, and our need to foster and protect these privileges. There are also sections on music, artists, other authors, including a lot of forwards he has written for others, and the production and writing of graphic novels. This is not a biography, but we do get little snippets of his life and the things that are important to him. I read these essays over the course of several weeks, as I had time and inclination, and, for me, this was the best way to do it. I might have gotten bored had I tried to plow through all at once. I can now say I have actually read a Neil Gaiman book, and who knows, I may well get to one of his novels before long. I'll end this review with his own words: "The magic and the danger of fiction is this: it allows us to see through other eyes. It takes us to places we have never been, allows us to care about, worry about, laugh with, and cry for, people who do not, outside of the story, exist. There are people who think that things that happen in fiction do not really happen. These people are wrong." And that's why I love and admire him.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Up until now, Neil Gaiman has been known as a fiction writer, giving us delights like Neverwhere and American Gods and is the creative force behind the equally amazing and disturbing Sandman series of graphic novels. I first came across him in the collaboration with Terry Pratchett that is Good Omens. When I first read it I hated it as it wasn’t Pratchett enough for me. The second time I came across him was when a book group I am in was reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane. This melancholy s Up until now, Neil Gaiman has been known as a fiction writer, giving us delights like Neverwhere and American Gods and is the creative force behind the equally amazing and disturbing Sandman series of graphic novels. I first came across him in the collaboration with Terry Pratchett that is Good Omens. When I first read it I hated it as it wasn’t Pratchett enough for me. The second time I came across him was when a book group I am in was reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane. This melancholy story is an adult fairy tale as a man relives the moments of his childhood with the strange happenings that went on. It blew me away. Since then I have read lots and lots of his books. I like the twists he adds to classic fairy tales, his children’s books enthral and scare at the same time. Best of all he has an imagination that literally knows no bounds. His latest book, The View from the Cheap Seats is his first foray into non-fiction, collected from the articles, speeches, obituaries and sometimes just random stuff he has written. I did not want to be nailed to the truth; or to be more accurate, I wanted to be able to tell the truth without ever needing to worry about the facts. The dedication is to his son Ash – these are some of the things that your father loved and said and cared about and believed a long time ago, and so he sets his agenda of subjects that have formed his opinions, shaped his writing and influenced his life. There are pieces on art and music, books and comics, authors who became friends and collaborators. Tales from his childhood as he read his way through the local library and in the process discovered worlds that existed inside the covers. He celebrates the idea; an element that is invisible and contagious, cannot be supressed and is impossible to control. The introduction to books are great, encouraging you to read before coming back to him to carry on the conversation that he has started and to tell you why that book is important to him and why it should be to you too. I learned that we have the right, or the obligation, to tell old stories in our own ways, because they are our stories, and they must be told. Gaiman’s mind is like an ocean of infinite width and fathomless depth and in this not insubstantial book he shows us the wealth of ideas he has drawn on and dropped in this ocean. These influences have stretched his imagination and given us, the reader, a series of books and graphic novels that are rich, deep twisted and dark. I liked his fond memories of writers, particularly favourites of mine, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. They were great friends of his, who he misses every day and it brings out happy and sad memories for him. It is full of useful advice too, extolling the virtue of setting your sights high as it is no more effort to produce something cool than it would be to produce something only average and that the only way to do things right is to do them wrong first. Even though he brings all of these things to your attention, persuades you to read and discover the things that made him who he is, there is still something that he does to make his books have that little extra something, that 45 degree skew, that enthrals and scares at the same time. Brilliant stuff from a master wordsmith.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Fangirl o'clock! If you've read my reviews, you might have noticed that I love Neil Gaiman, and that while I agree that he sometimes writes less interesting stories, I don't think he ever wrote a truly bad one. I have been known to buy books to which he wrote the introduction because I feel that if it has his stamp of approval, I should read it. I have been reading Neil's blog and the various articles and interviews that pop up on my Facebook newsfeed for ages, so I already knew he could write so Fangirl o'clock! If you've read my reviews, you might have noticed that I love Neil Gaiman, and that while I agree that he sometimes writes less interesting stories, I don't think he ever wrote a truly bad one. I have been known to buy books to which he wrote the introduction because I feel that if it has his stamp of approval, I should read it. I have been reading Neil's blog and the various articles and interviews that pop up on my Facebook newsfeed for ages, so I already knew he could write solid non-fiction when the occasion presented itself. I also knew most of the entries in "The View from the Cheap Seats" would be snippets I had already read somewhere before (for instance, I have the edition of "Fahrenheit 451" he wrote the introduction for). But I liked the idea of all these little pieces of writing collected together neatly. If you are a hardcore Neil fan like me, you probably won't find anything new in these pages, and some of it might feel repetitive. But like I said, it's nice to have this little collection of thoughts nicely bundled together as a reference. Mr. Gaiman is insightful, clever, incredibly kind and compassionate and funny in this quintessentially British way. I highlighted a bunch of passages, smiled almost continuously through the 500 pages and I know I will thumb through this tome again soon to refresh my memories on some of the wisdom it contains. The section "Some Things I Believe" is my favorite, and is mostly about writing, books, the importance of libraries and the power of story-telling was insightful and brilliant: I loved every entry. The section "Some People I Have Known" was less impressive to me, but that's mostly because I am an ignoramus who isn't familiar with half the people he talks about. I know Douglas, King, Pratchett and I will one day read Gene Wolfe, but the other ones are unknown to my puny brain. That took some of the fun out... Of course, his famous "Make Good Art" speech is in there, and I have to admit that it might be my favorite entry. I confess that I skipped a few entries because he was referring people I didn't know or books I had never heard of and it just made me completely confused... But everything I did read was written with an enormous amount of passion, which is something that draws me back to his work over and over again. And as is often the case with Gaiman books, I finished it with a list of new books to hunt down and read (my poor credit card...) 3 and a half, rounded to 4, because it is a mixed bag, but it's one of the best-written mixed bags you are likely to get your hands on.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Jones

    I only ever listen to Neil Gaiman's books on audiobook instead of reading them in a physical format and this book is a great example of why. Neil Gaiman's narration adds so much to the text that I can't imagine experiencing it any other way. This compilation of non-fiction writings from Gaiman includes articles, essays, reviews and introductions from throughout his writing career and I found, though a few were slightly repetitive of what came before in the collection (which is bound to happen in I only ever listen to Neil Gaiman's books on audiobook instead of reading them in a physical format and this book is a great example of why. Neil Gaiman's narration adds so much to the text that I can't imagine experiencing it any other way. This compilation of non-fiction writings from Gaiman includes articles, essays, reviews and introductions from throughout his writing career and I found, though a few were slightly repetitive of what came before in the collection (which is bound to happen in this sort of book), there was inspiration in all of the pieces. After reading this I am inspired to write more and to create more. I am inspired to aim high and see what happens. Neil Gaiman has made me want to pick up books that I never even knew existed and his Make Good Art speech which is contained in this book has made me want to just do more creatively. Overall I would recommend this book to everyone, especially you creative sorts, and I would definitely recommend the audiobook specifically.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    An assortment of eulogies, book introductions, speeches, articles, interviews, and general ponderings on a great many things. Reading this is a way to understand Gaiman beyond his fiction. In the meager number of his works that I have explored, I've felt an underlying connection which I wasn't sure how precisely to interpret. My brain likes to file things in very specific ways, and it was as if it kept wandering from one aisle to the next trying to determine where to place Gaiman. And then I read An assortment of eulogies, book introductions, speeches, articles, interviews, and general ponderings on a great many things. Reading this is a way to understand Gaiman beyond his fiction. In the meager number of his works that I have explored, I've felt an underlying connection which I wasn't sure how precisely to interpret. My brain likes to file things in very specific ways, and it was as if it kept wandering from one aisle to the next trying to determine where to place Gaiman. And then I read this book, and I knew. Wandering through these thoughts, the long and short, I came to realize that we wonder about and appreciate very similar things. That's what was familiar and the thread being plucked as I tried to understand why I like Gaiman as much as I do with as little as I've read. "Sometimes fiction is a way of coping with the poison of the world in way that lets us survive it." "Subject matter does not make genre." "The forms of tales that work survive; the others die and are forgotten." "Children are a relatively powerless minority, and, like all oppressed people, they know more about their oppressors than their oppressors know about them." These all told me things that I aligned with, but perhaps since my grasp of fantasy literature is shallower I didn't understand until Gaiman spoke about music and film. Then, I knew. He wrote about his Sundance experience and his surprise and love for Kung Fu Hustle, a movie when I spotted it I made everyone important at the time watch because it was magical and unexpected, that we shared a connection. And the same when he mentioned Tori Amos. Traveling still now: passing a sudden thunderstorm in the hills of New Mexico; then the stately California windmill fields and hills signal that the train is leaving real America and entering the world of imagination. We do dream life into existence everyday between sundrops and landshakes. Surrealism is what makes California wonder-filled. During his interview with Lou Reed there is the most perfect summation of being an artist. Some people are forever in the Velvet Underground thing, or the Transformer thing, or the Rock N Roll Animal thing--someplace around there. They'd like it to still be that. But I was only passing through. I think that if you love Gaiman, then you'll love the peeks inside. If you love art, you'll love how he talks about creation. Some of these are short and I skipped because I had no frame of reference for them, others I read anyway and enjoyed how Gaiman addressed the subject. Clearly, those that I knew, had an emotional investment, were the most satisfying to read. My thanks to Ran and the review that tempted me to pick this up.

  30. 5 out of 5

    HBalikov

    Neil Gaiman is an excellent storyteller. I don’t know if I can add much to the discussion than has been ably put down by my friends Will Byrnes and Sonya. The title is a bit disingenuous, since the categories of "celebrity" and "everyman" are almost entirely self-exclusive. I agree with Will that there is a lot of repetition in the speeches, thoughtful pieces on reading and introductions to others writings. One of the best parts was when he discusses what inspired him to write this book or that o Neil Gaiman is an excellent storyteller. I don’t know if I can add much to the discussion than has been ably put down by my friends Will Byrnes and Sonya. The title is a bit disingenuous, since the categories of "celebrity" and "everyman" are almost entirely self-exclusive. I agree with Will that there is a lot of repetition in the speeches, thoughtful pieces on reading and introductions to others writings. One of the best parts was when he discusses what inspired him to write this book or that one. The passion is evident when he writes about his current wife, Amanda Palmer. I agree with Sonya that he reads well and his reporting on Syrian refugees was very moving. As were his thoughts on the life of his friend, Terry Pratchett. I listened to him read this book and that helped me get through it. But, at the end of the day, this is a collection of non-fiction and less appealing to me than many of his other works. Probably a bit more than 3 stars but we are stuck with this system.

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