The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

Neil Gaiman. Morrow, $26.99 (544p) ISBN 978-0-0622-6226-4
This collection conclusively proves that Gaiman is just as accomplished an essayist as he is an author of fiction (The Ocean at the End of the Lane) and comics (The Sandman). Echoing Rainer Maria Rilke’s sentiment that “To praise is the whole thing,” the collection is about building things up, not tearing them down. Gaiman’s paeans to books, libraries, and bookstores, which tellingly are grouped together at the start, are heartfelt gems that capture the joy of reading. The author’s eclecticism finds him writing on many disparate subjects; Gaiman is as deft analyzing Batman and G.K. Chesterton as he is describing the plight of Syrian refugees in Jordan. The most meaningful piece is titled simply “Make Good Art”—the 2012 commencement address for the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The speech is in the same category as David Foster Wallace’s “This Is Water” in terms of wisdom per square inch. Gaiman’s words capture the importance of making art that is sincerely one’s own. With this volume, Gaiman has shown that his nonfiction rivals his much-lauded fiction. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/25/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016

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