The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

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The View from the Cheap Seats is a set of collected non-fiction writings done by Neil Gaiman over the many years of his writing career. Everything from speeches to book preludes and afterwards.

I have a profound love for Neil Gaiman, his ability to write, and tell stories. If you’re a fan of his works, have seen him talk, then I highly recommend that you check this out.

Its extensive, and thorough, and admittedly, I didn’t read all of it. There were some chapters that dealt with books I haven’t yet read, so I plan to go back to reading those sections once I’ve done so, as he has influenced me to expand my reading list into new areas.

There are so many great quotes that I’ve saved from this book, that I flagged in my copy for later reading. I could fill my entire blog post with quotes of his, but I will leave you with three of my favourites.

“I had forgotten what fiction was to me as a boy, forgotten what it was like in the library: fiction was an escape from the intolerable, a doorway into impossibly hospitable worlds where things had rules and could be understood; stories had been a way of learning about life without experiencing it, or perhaps of experiencing it as an eighteenth-century poisoner dealt with poisons, taking them in tiny doses, such that the poisoner could cope with ingesting things that would kill someone who was not inured to them. Sometimes fiction is a way of coping with the poison of the world in a way that lets us survive it.”

“The miracle of prose is this: it begins with the words. What we, as authors, give to the reader isn’t the story. We don’t give them the people or the places or the emotions. What we give the reader is a raw code, a rough pattern, loose architectural plans that they use to build the book themselves. No two readers can or will ever read the same book, because the reader builds the book in collaboration with the author.”

[On not knowing what you’re doing when you start a career in the Arts] “This is great. People who know what they’re doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing it again, yet.”


About K2Harvey

Reading, and writing about it.
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