Book Review: The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: The View from the Cheap Seats
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publication Date: May 31st 2016

Synopsis: "'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, behind 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."

My thoughts: This was a wonderful book to read - I decided to read it from front to back, rather than jumping around to the bits that I thought would appeal to me most. The fact is, I don't really read horror fiction because I have trouble sleeping afterwards, and Gaiman seems to have a deep love for horror and creepy-style fiction. I wanted to broaden my horizons a little bit, in a way that I felt was rather ...safer? than if I had just decided to try and pick up a ghost story.

This is such an eclectic and fantastic collection of Gaiman's writings, and I found that I really felt more desire to read his fictional works as a consequence of reading his non-fiction works. I think reading this collection is a fantastic idea for anyone - whether you've read most of his books, or you're just trying to get into his work, either way I think you get an idea for the things that matter to him, the things that he loves and cares about, and the things that make him sad.

The collection is split into many different parts - ten in all - including 'On Comics and Some of the People that Make Them', 'Introductions and Contradictions', and 'On Stardust and Fairy Tales'. I can honestly say that I found a lot in each of these sections that made me rethink things, and also motivated me to keep writing myself. 

Gaiman has such a wonderful way of writing - in a way that shares a little about himself, a little about those he knows, and a lot about what he is intrigued by. He somehow connects with his readers in such a strong way (I can now speak from experience here) without really addressing much to the reader (or in the case of speeches he has given, the listener). A lot of his writing in here seemed like musings, thoughts he has had that he is writing or talking out to make more sense of them, if he can do such a thing, and perhaps it is that desire to understand that connects with people so strongly.

I would highly recommend this to everyone. I didn't connect with every piece of writing in here, but I connected with many of them.

[I received a review copy of this book from HarperCollins. Thank you!!!]

A favourite line from the book: "I start to tell [Stephen] King my theory, that when people in the far future want to get an idea of how things felt between 1973 and today, they'll look to King. He's a master of reflecting the world that he sees, and recording it on the page. The rise and fall of the VCR, the arrival of Google and smartphones. It's all in there, behind the monsters and the night, making them more real."

You would like this book if: You like Neil Gaiman, or Amanda Palmer, or Stephen King, or Terry Pratchett, or... just. I think you might like it. Give it a go.

Tea to drink while reading this book: I am going to recommend T2's Botanica, for something sweet to go with all your realisations and horror fictiony goodness.

Rating:  9/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

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