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The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

The View from the Cheap Seats (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Neil Gaiman (Author)

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4872021,072 (3.97)37
Title:The View from the Cheap Seats
Authors:Neil Gaiman (Author)
Info:William Morrow (2016), Ebook, 486 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:nonfiction, essays, ebook, library, read, 2017, checked

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The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman (2016)



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The View From the Cheap Seats is a compilation of Neil Gaiman's best non-fiction. Some of these are essays, some are introductions, some are speeches and all of them are thoughtful. In this book, Neil Gaiman shares things he believes, things about the people he is fortunate enough to know, movies, comics, music and more.

You might be thinking that Neil Gaiman is best known for stories, fantasy or science fiction works and why would anyone want to read 500 pages of speeches and introductions, who reads introductions anyways? Well, I always read introductions and hopefully you will too.

In The View from the Cheap Seats I have learned what I have always known, but have never put into complete thoughts; stories are important, stories have power. I have learned that words are magic that turn into ideas, ideas that can make you change the world.

In his essays, speeches and introductions about other authors I learned of the deep respect held for fellow mentors and writers. I also gleamed some insight into how authors work and develop ideas. Most of all, I discovered some authors that I have never had the pleasure of reading and have now been added to my to-be-read pile.

With any compilation, you could pick and choose which sections to read or individuals selections. If you do choose to read this, read it however you choose, skip around, devour or meander through, but I do suggest reading it all and letting the power of the words soak in.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. ( )
  Mishker | May 24, 2017 |
These are all the speeches, articles, blog entries, and forewords Neil Gaiman has written over the years. A lot of them were about stuff I know nothing about -- old authors that he admired, music I don't listen to, stories from his youth I'm too young to appreciate. It's not a memoir, it's a series of essays. Most of them are gushes about someone. There's nothing about the writing process or creation in here, except the "Make Good Art" speech which everyone knows.

And it's long. His writing style is unchanged -- full of comfort and warmth, like when Luke Skywalker meets Obi-Wan Kenobi for the first time, and you know that this guy is one of the good ones. But I am not the kind of guy who has found solace in any of Gaiman's influencers -- Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett, Will Eisner, etc. There are a few memorable ones, but as a whole, this is only for the most diehard Gaiman fan. ( )
  theWallflower | Mar 20, 2017 |
This is an excellent book! I listened to the audiobook version, read by Neil Gaiman, and it was just a pleasure to listen to. Listening to this book I believe is the best way to absorb Gaiman's text. Gaiman's reading is brilliant and just listening to him talk about his favorite books and music just makes you want to read more. ( )
  Arkrayder | Mar 13, 2017 |
The View from the Cheap Seats
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow / HarperCollins Publishing
Published In: New York City, NY
Date: 2016
Pgs: 522


Neil Gaiman non-fiction essays on authors, music, storytelling, comics, bookshops, travel, fairy tales, America, inspiration, libraries, ghosts, the Academy Awards, etc

Why this book:
Neil Gaiman.

522 pages on writing, authors, where stories come from, the inner workings, thoughts, dreams, research...

Favorite Character:
Neil Gaiman, his ideas, his ideals, his character.

The Feel:
Sitting down with a very intelligent friend who has strong opinions and having a wide ranging discussion about life, the universe, and everything in it.

Love all the behind the scenes of the writing of American Gods speeches and essays, a favorite.

Favorite Scene / Quote:
From Credo: “I believe that you can set your own ideas against ideas you dislike. That you should be free to argue, explain, clarify, debate, offend, insult, rage, mock, sing, dramatize, and deny. I do not believe that burning, murdering, exploding people, smashing their heads with rocks (to let the bad ideas out), drowning them or even defeating them will work to contain ideas you do not like. Ideas spring up where you do not expect them, like weeds, and are as difficult to control.”

I love that quote from Credo because it brings to mind every “no you move” essay and speech that I’ve ever heard in my life.

From Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading, and Daydreaming: The Reading Agency Lecture, 2013: “...I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons---a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan for its future growth---how many cells are they going to need? ...using a very simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of ten- and eleven-year olds couldn’t read. …”

That is disheartening.

Telling Lies for a Living...and Why We Do it: the Newbery Medal Speech, 2009: Love the speech. The Graveyard Book is one of my favorites.

Four Bookshops: “...all of those bookshops come back, the shelves, and the people. And most of all, the books, their covers bright, then, pages filled with infinite possibilities. I wonder who I would have been, without those shelves, without those people, without books.”

The Pornography of Genre, or the Genre of Pornography: “Now the advantage of genre to a creator is it gives you something to play to and to play against. It gives you a net and the shape of the game. Sometimes it gives you balls.”

That puts me in mind that genre is the set of accepted cliches that provide the framework.

What The [Very Bad Swearword] is a Children’s Book, Anyway? The Zena Sutherland Lecture: Walking home from private school, Gaiman heard a joke with that dirty word in it. He repeated it to his friends at school. One of them promptly went home and told it to their mother, who withdrew the boy from that school and raised hell. Gaiman was excoriated over it and his mother was called to the school. She was told that the only reason he wasn’t removed was because the other boy was already gone and they didn’t want to lose 2 school fees. Over a joke that the young Neil Gaiman already didn’t remember. And he had to tell his mother when she asked that he had used the word fuck. He stated that he learned two important lessons: be extremely selective with your audiences; words have power. I would submit that he learned four lessons with the other two being: some people have giant sticks up their bums; money talks and bullshit walks.

“...do not come to authors for answers. You come to us for questions.”

Enjoyed his take on Lovecraft, Jack Kirby, and Astro City.

How Dare You: On America and Writing About It: Slowly I realized both that the America I’d been writing was wholly fictional, and that the real America, the one underneath the what-you-see-is-what-you-get surface, was much stranger than the fictions.

What The [Very Bad Swearword] is a Children’s Book, Anyway? The Zena Sutherland Lecture: Children are very good at looking away.

Loved the story of his 11-year old daughter liking R.L. Stine and his taking it as an oppotunity to introduce her to Stephen King’s Carrie. ...and her still glaring at him whenever Stephen King comes up in conversation.

On Stephen King for the Sunday Times: They pay me absurd amounts of money for something that i would do for free” - Stephen King.

Non-fiction about writing, culture, storytelling...pace is not your friend here.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:
Themes and stories repeat between many speeches, addresses, and essays.

Hmm Moments:
The Pornography of Genre, or the Genre of Pornography: Love the reference to Sturgeon’s Law with 90% of everything being crap. And the final 10% falling along the spectrum between good and awesome. I feel that it is more a Bell Curve between unreadable crap and the best ever.

Love the way that he references a paper that compared musicals, pornography, and Westerns as a way to explain genre. Imagein those 3 without songs, sex, and gunfights, respectively. Remove them and you have soap operas and the same fan may not crossover.

What The [Very Bad Swearword] is a Children’s Book, Anyway? The Zena Sutherland Lecture: Often the adult book is not for you, not yet, or will only be for you when you’re ready. But sometimes you will read it anyway, and you will take from it whatever you can. Then, perhaps, you will come back to it when you’re older, and you will find the book has changed because you have changed as well, and the book is wiser, or more foolish, because you are wiser or more foolish than you were as a child.

That exact circumstance is how I discovered Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream, which my understanding of has evolved a number of times over the years. One of my favorites. I have re-read it three or four times. And another re-read should be in my near future.

WTF Moments:
Ghost in the Machine: Some Hallowe’en Thoughts: When he tells the story of the blogger, without any identifying characteristics on the site, blogs about wanting to commit suicide, flat, bleak, hopeless, not a cry for help, just didn’t want to live any longer. He tried to find out where the blogger was and what he could do to send help. She described getting the pills a few at a time so they wouldn’t be missed from medicine cabinets. And finally, she posted “Tonight.” Helpless, he swallowed the feeling of not knowing who to tell and how to help. And then, she started to post again, at this point, I thought he was going to tell us that she was doing some kind of sociology project. However, she posted that she was cold and lonely where she was. He thinks she knows he’s still reading. Brr, that’s good.

These Are Not Our Faces: “There was a story I was told as a child, about a little girl who peeked in through a writer’s window one night, and saw him writing. He had taken his false face off to write and had hung it behind the door, for he wrote with his real face on. And she saw him, and he saw her. And, from that day to this, nobody has ever seen the little girl again.” This is the reason that writers look just like other people today, though sometimes their lips move as they write. “This is why people who encounter [fantasy] writers...are rarely satisfied by the wholly inferior person that they meet.”

I don’t believe that I’ve ever managed to write with my true face. Maybe this is why I haven’t been truly satisfied with anything that I’ve written...yet.

Meh / PFFT Moments:
The later sections of the book has blurbs written for other books and intros which aren’t as good as some of the essays and speeches in the earlier parts of the book.

Last Page Sound:
An interesting read.

Author Assessment:
To me, Gaiman writes like Morgan Freeman speaks. In the same way that I would listen to Freeman read the phonebook, I would read Neil Gaiman if he wrote a trilogy about the life of a mayfly.

Editorial Assessment:
Could have realistically been trimmed by a good 200 pages and wouldn’t have suffered from the absence.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
glad I read it

Disposition of Book:
Irving Public Library
South Campus
Irving, TX

Dewey Decimal System:

Would recommend to:
genre fans
_________________________________________________ ( )
1 vote texascheeseman | Feb 9, 2017 |
This is a great thinking piece. The author touches on several subjects and gives his opinion on many things. Some is inspiring, some funny, some informational and so on. This book is a collection of articles, book forewords, speeches, etc. he has done with a few comments about them. I learned a lot about life and art which are the main points to everything. It's definitely worth reading. I recommend reading to anyone open enough to let the material reach you, and I think it will be especially helpful to writers. ( )
  ToniFGMAMTC | Jan 19, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062262262, Hardcover)

An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 11 Feb 2016 11:13:41 -0500)

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