As much as we can learn from reading fiction from writers we admire, sometimes it’s the truth of the matter that speaks to us the most. Admired by millions, bestselling author Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Stardust, Neverwhere) is a living legend. For me, his Sandman comic series is one of the best series I’ve ever read, and I can say that with the knowledge that I haven’t read every issue yet. I just know it’s going to continue to speak to me as sure as the sun rises in the morning. Though I’m not a great fan of his prose, I know a good writer when I read one, and he is without a doubt one of the best working today. The View from the Cheap Seats collects a selection of his speeches, introductions, and essays covering a wide range of subjects, and readers will find it just as inspiring to read as his fiction.
Designed to either be read cover to cover, or piece by piece, the nonfiction collection has something for everyone. Beyond the introduction, Gaiman breaks the book down into sections as a way of organization, with parts such as Some Things I Believe, Some People I Have Known, On Comics and Some of the People Who Make Them, and On Stardust and Fairy Tales. Here we find speeches he’s written for speaking engagements, introductions he was asked to write for books, and expansive essays he’s published throughout the years covering the subjects that interest him. The beautiful thing about this book is that you turn to any page and find something of interest. One particular section covers how he came up with the ideas for his Sandman comic series, including his character Death, herself the subject of her own line of stories written by Gaiman. He writes how he came up with his own mythology using concepts all humans are familiar with such as dreams and death, creating a family like structure that gives the concepts the power of gods, while still keeping them relatable with human characteristics we see in ourselves and others.
When one of our best story-tellers, a modern-day mythmaker and creator of fairytales, writes truth from the heart, we need to listen to him. We need to hear what he has to say. As we learn more about the subjects that interest him, we learn more about him, and about ourselves, in the process. The View from the Cheap Seats is certainly one of those books you can return to again and again and find inspiration on every page. If there is only one Neil Gaiman book you should read, this one comes very high on the list of recommended titles.
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