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Review: The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cover of The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
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.

Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seats explores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman—offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.
I adore Neil Gaiman's work, so I jumped at the chance to review this new collection of his nonfiction. I've read bits and pieces of his graduation speeches and stuff like that and it always makes me stand up and cheer, "Yes! This! This man gets it!" And that should probably tell you where my expectations were.

The collection covers a ridiculous amount of ground. There are the graduation speeches, convention speeches, introductions he's written for books by other authors, articles he's written for magazines, and it goes on and on. The man sure does get around.

And while everything is written with Gaiman's own inimitable style, the book is so big and the territory so varied that there were inevitably sections I just didn't care about. I'm not a big fan of science fiction, so all of that didn't particularly interest me. I do read graphic novels but I'm not widely read in this area, so I was a little lost in that part. I was mildly interested in looking up some of the authors Gaiman raved about, but I never actually wrote any names down and now I've given the book away so I don't think I'll actually find any of them.

Even the parts that I was interested in, such as the fantasy and his articles and speeches about creativity and making art, got a bit repetitive for me when assembled like this. I do appreciate that Bradbury was a phenomenal author, and I appreciate that he was a big influence on Gaiman's work. But two or three introductions/essays in a row about him left my mind wandering, even though they did cover slightly different ground.

Still, Gaiman is such a fabulous, curious writer in his own right and so knowledgeable about so many things that I will always recommend reading any of his work, including this collection. Even though I didn't love it, I appreciated the glimpse inside his own passions and beliefs and thoughts.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Read or listen to an excerpt.

Buy The View from the Cheap Seats at

Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader


I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

1 comment:

  1. I have this and started it, but I sort of wandered away from it. I should get back to it! If you like Terry Pratchett, his collection of non-fiction writing was really good. I read it earlier this year and while a bit of repetition in the topics, I still enjoyed the overall book.

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