We all know Neil Gaiman as the writer of fantastical fiction like Good Omens, American Gods, Stardust and The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, but in his new book, The View From The Cheap Seats, we’re going to get a view at more of the inner working of the man behind them. That sounds like the prelude to an autobiography, so don’t be fooled, because this is a selection of his non fiction writing, which has given him a forum to get his views on life and some of the things that matter to him off his chest.
It’s scheduled to arrive on hardback release on the 31st May 2016, bringing together everything he’s been chatting about in recent years. It turns out he’s pretty active outside of the realms of fiction, taking time out from writing the likes of Trigger Warning, his most recent collection of short stories, to vigorously discuss everything from art and writing to Syrian refugees and Academy Awards melancholia.
It includes the entirety of his speech to the University of the Arts in Philidelphia in which he opines on the importance of making good art, resulting in a virulent groundswell online, a bit like a positively charged electronic variant of a zombie outbreak where the shambling undead viciously try to lick people better. If that isn’t enough to draw you in to this cornucopia of Confucius brain goo then you can add his odes to the late, greats Terry Pratchett, Lou Reed and Ray Bradbury.
He provides a pretty rousing take on the power of a single word – and we’re not just talking about the Fs, Cs and Ws of the foul-mouthed lexicon that retired munitions factory workers with severe comb-overs are so want to use during moment of avid road rage. You can also count on getting the details behind the time he played the kazoo with Stephen King, along with a bit more of a flick through the beautiful world of comic books, which Neil Gaiman has a big thumb-sized indentation in.
There’s been a refreshing resurgence of similar morally and socially charged rebels firing their well-aimed and right-thinking thought engines at the stuff that bugs them, inspires them and revolts them. Recently, we’ve had Caitlin Moran’s Moranifesto, as she takes a socialist view on everything from the importance of benefits to the bulge in David Bowie’s cod piece and while Russell Brand’s Revolution misfires as much as it gets good contact on the nail’s noggin, the majority of the rest is on the right lines. It all feels a little reminiscent, to a certain degree, of George Orwell’s Why I Write, and when taken as a collective there’s a lot of positive conversations to take in.
Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats will be the next outing in this charge for social excellence, but as with the other efforts there will also be a fair amount to entertain and amuse, as well as the more thoughtful elements of the book. We’re not 100% sure whether or not the reference to Stephen King’s kazoo is a euphemism, but we’re definitely looking forward to reading the book to find out (that would make one of the funniest kiss and tell stories in writing history). All in all, nice work Neil, keep fighting the fight, shining a light and dealing in fantastical delight.