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Literary Friday: The View from the Cheap Seats

Friday, June 3, 2016

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  This week I read The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman.  I must disclose first and foremost that I am a tremendous fan of Gaiman's.  He has written a couple of my top ten favorite books of all time, has created two of the most frighteningly sinister villains I've ever read, and he wrote The Graveyard Book, one of my youngest daughter's favorite books.  I read it aloud to her when she was in sixth grade (the year it was published).   I also took her and her big sister who was an eleventh grader at the time (big sis is also a Gaiman fan) to see him speak and read stories in Tuscaloosa.  Yes, he is considered a rockstar in this household.

The View From the Cheap Seats cover

About The View From the Cheap Seats

• Hardcover: 544 pages • Publisher: William Morrow (May 31, 2016)
An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his fiction. Now, for the first time in print, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together more than sixty works of his outstanding nonfiction on topics and people close to his heart.
As Neil explains, “This book is not ‘the complete nonfiction of Neil Gaiman.’ It is, instead, a motley bunch of speeches and articles, introductions and essays. Some of them are serious and some of them are frivolous and some of them are earnest and some of them I wrote to try and make people listen.”

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Neil GaimanAbout Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains; the Sandman series of graphic novels; and the story collections Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, and the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States. He is Professor in the Arts at Bard College. Find out more about Neil at his website, find all his books at his online bookstore, and follow him on Facebook, tumblr, Twitter, and his blog.

My Review:

I enjoyed reading this selection of Gaiman's nonfiction.  The pieces that discussed his childhood and his early affinity for reading, libraries, and books are among my favorites.  In his Newberry Medal Speech entitled "Telling Lives for a Living...and Why We Do It" Gaiman had me laughing out loud:

"I should mention here that librarians tell me never to tell this story, and especially never to paint myself as a feral child who was raised in libraries by patient librarians; they tell me they are worried that people will misinterpret my story and use it as an excuse to use their libraries as free day care for their children."

Like me, Neil spent a lot of his time at the library when he wasn't in school.  I can so relate: I walked to the library after school because my mother couldn't pick me up immediately, and I loved the time I spent waiting at our local library.  (Gaiman won the Newberry Medal for The Graveyard Book.)

Another selection I enjoyed is "All Books Have Genders."  It is a piece originally published on in 2001 to accompany the launch of American Gods.  I enjoyed it because it basically discusses his writing process, and I found it interesting.

My favorite section in the book is Section VI: Introductions and Contradictions.  In this section he shares introductions to the works of Poe, Kipling, Wells and Thurber among others.  I'm definitely voyeuristic when it comes to what others read.  When I visit people's homes, I usually make a beeline for their bookshelves to see what they read, and to see if we've read any of the same books. This section includes authors who've influenced and delighted Neil Gaiman, and now I want to find these editions with his introductions.  Not quite as good as perusing his bookshelves, but definitely a close second!

"So Many Ways to Die in Syria Now: 2014" made me cry.  This should be required reading for all Americans because our government's interference in the destabilization of the Middle East has caused so much death and destruction of lives.  Gaiman's observations of a Jordanian refugee camp and his interactions with the displaced Syrians is truly heartbreaking.  He was so brave in making the trip, and this selection was first published in The Guardian in May 2014.

If you love reading, books, and libraries, you'll enjoy The View from the Cheap Seats.  Having read Gaiman's fiction isn't necessarily a prerequisite for enjoying this book, but if you haven't read any of his fiction before now you really should.  :)  (Give me a stack of his short stories and I'm entertained for days!)

You may read my review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane here.

I received a copy of The View from the Cheap Seats from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I always find Gaiman's writing to be interesting and compelling, and this book looks to be the same. I can't wait to read it!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  2. I haven't read any of Gaiman's books but your review was excellent. Thanks, this will be a couple of your recommendations I've added to my list of books to read.
    Stay cool next week. it's getting hot!

  3. You've piqued my interest in all the essays you recommended! Sounds like a great collection!

  4. Oh, I hadn't heard of this one but now I MUST check it out. Thank you!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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