The View from the Cheap Seats (ToC) is a collection of the selected non-fiction of Neil Gaiman. It’s a hodge-podge of essays, interviews, book introductions, speeches, and the like. Some of them I had read before, either online or as part of the Neil Gaiman Humble Bundle.
What makes this collection work, I guess, is that despite some of the pieces being deeply personal, they are never private. Even when I knew nothing about the subject/person being talked about, Gaiman manages to make a connection. So that you can relate. After reading some of the included book reviews, there were quite a few titles I might want to look into eventually. But the pieces about making art and the process of making things up were the most fun for me.
Throughout the book there are little nuggets of quotable wisdom, like “I don’t get only supporting the freedom of the kind of speech you like. If speech needs defending, it’s probably because it’s upsetting someone.” and “Things can mean more than they literally mean. And that’s the dividing line between art and everything that isn’t art. Or one of the lines, anyway.”
Two pieces are among my all-time top 5 favorite things Neil Gaiman put on paper. The first is a Credo:
(full text, full text illustrated by Chris Riddell)
And then there is perhaps my favorite thing Gaiman ever did, the incredibly uplifting The ‘Make Good Art’ Speech (transcript):
- Book read
- Neil Gaiman — The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction
- First line
- I fled, or at least, backed awkwardly away from journalism because I wanted the freedom to make things up. (from “Introduction”)