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review 2019-10-23 04:12
The View from the Cheap Seats
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction


Neil Gaiman, 2016


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.


This is a collection of essays, book introductions, and speeches that Neil Gaiman has written over the years. There is nothing published here that is new for this book - it has all been published elsewhere before (or in the case of the speeches, presented somewhere else before). However, I personally had only read a few of the pieces previously (Gaiman's famous "Make Good Art" speech is included), so most of these were new to me. 


I've seen some reviews that complain that this is self-indulgent or cashing in, and maybe it is. But I also think that very few people will have read all of these writings previously. It's the same as short story collections - I may have read one or two of the stories elsewhere, but as long as it's mostly new, I'm happy to re-read the few pieces I know (or skip over them, if I didn't like them the first time). 


This book is composed of mostly speeches, reviews of other books and authors (from either articles or book introductions) and essays about musicians. (There are a few essays about other things, but these make up the majority of the book). Because of this, I feel that this book would work well if you wanted to just pick and choose a few things to read and skip over the ones that didn't interest you, if that is your chosen method. However, while I do own this book and plan to go back to it as I read some of his recommended books, I chose to listen to the audiobook, because Gaiman reads it himself, and I loved hearing it in his voice (especially his speeches). 


I also enjoyed his writings about other books and authors, and my to-read list has grown after finishing this book. Some books I already had on my list, but his writings made me want to bump them up the list (Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, as well as some H.G. Wells, Poe, and Lovecraft stories that I haven't gotten around to yet). There were also some books that I didn't have on my to-read list already that I added - some that I had heard of before (Dianna Wynne Jones, Harlan Ellison, Jeff Smith's Bone) and some that are completely new to me (Gene Wolfe, Dave Sim). 


Neil Gaiman is my favorite author and has been for quite some time (since I first read American Gods around 2002) and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into the things that he enjoys. This book is not for everyone, but I think if you're a fan of Gaiman, it's worth a look (and a listen, if you can get your hands on the audiobook). 

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review 2018-02-19 23:58
like a box of chocolates
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman

Well this was wonderful and boring and inspiring and tedious all at different times. I'd read many parts before, so it's a mixed bag. It was one of those Kindle deals that I can never pass up (until recently when I installed the library extension and forced myself to use the darn thing finally.) I'm going to get through them! So 1 down, who knows how many to go.

Neil Gaiman (whose name I always misspell) is always charming, smart, interesting and wise. I did get more added to my TBR shelf from him, and I enjoyed the beginning of the book and the end of the book much more than the middle - where he picks authors and discusses them. It's funny, since I just -- like a week or two ago -- adored his introduction to Fahrenheit 451 on a reread. It was critical to me being able to get around some issues I had with the book and actually brought me much more joy on that read. Yet, on reading the same words here, it felt dull and flat. It's a book introduction, and it works best with the book. This happens to many of the introductions - especially if I hadn't read the book or wasn't familiar with the work in question. (Actually, I have started reading introductions twice: once before and once I've finished, because they always mean more to me after the book.)

I loved his writing on music, but that's because we have extremely similar taste in music, so I had some idea of what he was typing, some investment already. (In fact, I first learned of Gaiman via music circles long before I ever delved into his books.) Much as I adore Stephen King's writing, I don't know him as a person, so warm talks about personal life don't do much for me. Though I now know Terry Pratchett loved chocolate, I would have appreciated more about his work that I could relate to (instead of, because there was obviously a lot about Pratchett.) This may also be an idiosyncratic personal tic. I've recently been aware that I care far less about a celebrity's personal life than many other people.

There are some really wonderful bits in this book, and like any book of introductions, essays, speeches and other stuff collected over a lifetime of work, some less wonderful bits. Nothing is bad, and it's practical to skip things unless you have a touch of OCD like me and would feel like you "cheated."

This one is worth a read, probably more like a box of chocolates than as a cover-to-cover endeavor. Pick one, savor it, then put the box away for another time. I've got a few more of these books on my Kindle from Gaiman, so I'll know better in future.

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text 2018-02-07 03:16
Reading progress update: I've read 202 out of 502 pages.
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman

He is a SF writer and proud of this.


SF is an interesting, scenario extending novel. What if? What if this go on to the extreme? 


I like his take on SF. And it should be a genre to be celebrated. 


The favorite and worst quote from SF writers is interesting too.


Enjoying this. 

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text 2018-01-31 05:59
Reading progress update: I've read 138 out of 502 pages.
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman

I switched to this edition. I got this book for over a year and has not complete it yet. 


Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. 


Interesting that he first know Stephen King as a fan, and then get to know him as a man. He also a friend of his son Joe King. 



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review 2017-10-12 18:30
Delightful, but perhaps a bit unavoidably repetitive
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman

Some really great little selections here, but, as I titled it, it's a bit repetitive in places.  There may be two essays back to back that come from a similar root, or key stories that are referenced multiple times.  Other essays are wholly distinct from each other.


It also, of course, has the advantage of being read by the author, so that is always pleasant.


Definitely made me curious about some authors and works I've never listened to, and it is overall a solid collection.

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