Book of the Week: The View from the Cheap Seats – Neil Gaiman

This collection of sixty-some essays covers such a wide array of subjects that one might wonder what ties it together. The answer is “Neil Gaiman.” His singular sensibility makes almost anything he writes worth the price of admission. Elizabeth Gilbert elaborates:

Gaiman examines everything that has ever fascinated him – comics and movies; libraries and paintings; music and politics; science fiction and journalism; storytelling and storytellers; nationalism and war . . . and, of course, love and death. It may be the case that you are interested in some of these subjects, but not interested in others. Don’t worry about it. Read the whole book anyway. Read every single word. Some of this stuff you won’t care about at all – until Gaiman explains to you why it matters. Then, you will care. You will care deeply. You might even care forever.”

It arrives with several starred advance reviews; the NYT is already slated to cover it and most Indie bookstores will have signed copies to sell.

“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….The most meaningful piece is titles 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….With this volume, Gaiman has shown that his nonfiction rivals his much-lauded fiction.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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….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….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.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[W]itty, comical, lighthearted, enthusiastic, personal without egoism, entertaining even at their most serious.”

“I read this book in one delirious gulp and it’s just so damn awesome and useful. Part archive, part hymnal, full of devotion and erudition, this is also a glorious love-letter to reading, to writing, to dreaming, to an entire genre.”
— Junot Diaz

“Neil Gaiman is an unparalleled storyteller, and his nonfiction writing is every bit as compelling and thought-provoking as his fiction. His curiosity and enthusiasm keep the reader interested, whether he’s writing about his cultural influences – books, bookstores, writers, artists, musicians – or his friends, or issues of social justice. His attitude of inclusion and encouragement and his championing of those he admires leave the reader feeling positive. I loved The View from the Cheap Seats!”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction (9780062262264) by Neil Gaiman. $26.99 hardcover. 5/31/16 on sale.

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