The View From The Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction by Neil Gaiman
Ever since I read my first Neil Gaiman book, American Gods, I have been in complete awe of this man’s imagination and his way with words. I have since read The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Neverwhere and I was totally in love with both of those as well. When I saw this collection of his speeches, essays, forwards, and thoughts …I knew I had to have it.
Fot this, I alternated in between reading the hard text and listening to the audiobook and let me tell you….both were wonderful experiences! Gaiman narrates this himself…so it’s him reading his own words and his interpretation, opinions, and thoughts really shine through. Not to mention that his voice is just amazingly relaxing and mesmerizing. If Gaiman narrated every audiobook there is, I likely might not ever read an actual book again 😉
There were so many parts to this book that I absolutely loved, but if I had to pick my favorite…I would probably say it was a lecture he gave in 2013 for the Reading Agency, a UK charity with a mission to help people become more confident readers:
“Literate people read fiction, and fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end…that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you’re on the road to reading everything. And reading is key.”
This entire speech is simply beautiful and perfect. In it he also talks about children and their reading preferences and how, unknowingly so, some adults will turn children away from reading simply by forcing them to read things they don’t enjoy, aren’t interested in, or just not ready for. Adults thinking that certain authors aren’t “good enough” or that comics aren’t “real” reading…..those ideas are “hogwash” according to Gaiman, and I have to agree. Reading is reading is reading:
“You don’t discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is the gateway drug to other books you may prefer them to read. And not everyone has the same taste as you. Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and, worse, unpleasant.”
Seriously, I love this man. I could probably quote that entire speech here, instead I’ll just have you get the book and read it in it’s entirely for yourself.
Another part that I adored was an opening for a tour book for Tori Amos’s Under the Pink tour in 1994. Mostly because, in high school, I was a huge Tori Amos fan…and they way he describes and talks about his friend makes me realize that she’s likely every bit as cool as I thought she was 20 years ago. Gaiman also has a few chapters dedicated to his wife, Amanda Palmer, and you can’t help but smile at the pure love, adoration, and awe he has for her and how those emotions just come out with his simple words.
There’s also plenty of hilariously funny moments too. Like the time he admitted to his nineteen year old daughter, Holly, that she was named after the Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn in “Walk on the Wild Side”:
“‘That’s right,” I said, and bit the bullet. We were having the conversation. “You were named after the drag queen in a Lou Reed song”‘
In case you can’t tell…I thoroughly enjoyed reading and listening to The View From the Cheap Seats…and I definitely recommend it if you are a fan of Gaiman’s work. There were a few chapters that centered around famous sci-fi authors and comic artists that I found myself skimming, but overall this was a great read for me. He is definitely an author I would love to meet in person one day.
My Rating; 4/5 stars