If you know anything about me, it is probably this: I love Neil Gaiman. I love him with all my heart. Like all true love, this doesn’t mean that I just adore him – I put up with his annoying quirks, like the fact that he cannot write endings. And can say problematic things.
So: I love everything he writes. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t see its flaws, too.
I have read/watched quite a few of Gaiman’s speeches and introductions. (At one point I had the audio of various speeches on my iPod. They’re really comforting.) However, even given my general familiarity with his non-fiction, I was absolutely thrilled when I purchased ‘The View from the Cheap Seats’ last week.
It is a massive book that is split into various topics, such as fairy tales, comics, and ‘Some Things I Believe’. Some topics I wasn’t so interested in. There are a lot of introductions to science fiction writers I’ve never heard of. There could definitely be fewer of these. There are some classics, like his ‘Make Good Art’ speech. I’ve listened to this speech so many times that as I was reading it, I could hear his particular intonations, and this gave me the shivers. (As a reading experience, as well, it’s a bit easier than the Chip Kidd version.)
The final section, in my opinion, is what really elevates this book into something truly special. It absolutely glows with emotion and personality and damn good writing. The titular essay ‘The View From the Cheap Seats’ is indeed wonderful, and has already been added to my canon of favourite non-fiction.
I’ve read all of these before. I think they’re in ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, but I don’t have my copy on me to make sure. This was pretty disappointing, because I had assumed that they would be new stories.
They’re good ones, don’t get me wrong. But not new.
(I’m still probably going to watch the TV versions of them, though. I’m always interested in book-to-screen adaptations.)