Book Review: The View from the Cheap Seats - Neil Gaiman

I can’t think of a single fantasy character that would be Neil Gaiman. I’m tempted to think that he’s like Santa Claus, but he’s not the sort who’d care if someone was being naughty. He’s not Dumbledore or Gandalf either - he’d rather be your friend than your mentor. He’s not even the Dream of the Endless, since he’s not aware of how powerful he is.

Reading Gaiman’s nonfiction is like meditation that clears and even expands your mind. It’s like a cool refreshing drink after a long day of rigour (I read The View From the Cheap Seats after the underwheling chore of reading Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness). This book is satisfying and disquieting at the same time. You will discover a lot more to read, and at the same time, reading Gaiman has a normalizing effect on whatever you have read. I think Gaiman has unwittingly achieved a standardization of literature that ought to be widely adopted. The book is scattered with dreamy encounters with giants like Stephen King and Terry Pratchett (among many more), punctuated with brutal shocks that he felt about the Syrain refugee crisis or Charlie Hedbo, grounded by his account of the bauble of the Oscars. What he doesn’t deal in is mediocrity and trivia.

So, when you want to read about reading or writing, read Neil Gaiman’s nonfiction.

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