It wouldn’t be true to say that I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading Neil Gaiman but he’s one of those authors who seems to have been part of my life for so long that it would be easy to make out like he’d always been there. Wrong, but easy.
Whether it’s his novels or comic books, Gaiman has a deserved reputation as one of our premier imaginers. This collection of his non-fiction was given to me as a Christmas present and I devoured it in two days. Ostensibly a simple collection of speeches, book introductions, reviews of other writers as well as a terrific essay that reveals just how awful the Oscars are, The View From The Cheap Seats gives the reader a superb insight into the mind and interests of this singular author.
At first glance, one could be forgiven for thinking this is a simple cash-in. You would be wrong. The thing about Gaiman is that he cares enormously- about writing, reading, the process of creation, the joy of life and of making good art. All of the pieces here are worthy of your time. Regardless of whether you think you have little or no interest in some of the subjects on offer here, Gaiman’s. compassion and accessibility as a writer will have you falling in love again or caring anew about a huge range of topics.
There’s stuff here about The Oscars, the rock band Evelyn Evelyn, HP Lovecraft, film criticism, spending pocket money and, well, Death.He had me reaching for my notepad- not just to fill in the gaps in my Gaiman collection but to discover other writers that have piqued the author’s interest. By the end of the book, I had counted twenty two authors I wanted to devour- from gothic fiction to sci-fi and back again. More though, this book effortlessly rekindled in me the pure joy of reading and gave me a much needed nudge to start writing about reading again.
The View From The Cheap Seats is by turns enthralling, self-deprecating but, above all, human.