British Fiction Focus

“The Real World Didn’t Go Away”: Revealing The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

“I fled the world of journalism almost 30 years ago, for the safer shores of making things up,” Neil Gaiman said to The Bookseller earlier. “Still, the real world didn’t go away, and I’ve talked about it over the years. I’ve written about libraries and refugees and being mournful at the Oscars, ‎written about books I loved and why comics were not tulip bulbs, written about my friends, living and dead, written about the things and people who have kept me going in the dark times…

“Now I’ve assembled‎ a thick book, filled with non-fiction. That will, I hope, inspire and enlighten, and perhaps send some of you off to find new authors, or to write books of your own.”

It’s called The View From the Cheap Seats, and it’s coming out of Headline on the last day of May in the UK.

As to its thickness, The View From the Cheap Seats looks to be 500+ pages long, and brings together something like sixty tales both tall and true:

From ‘Make Good Art,’ the speech [Gaiman] gave at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia that went viral, to pieces on artists and legends including Terry Pratchett, Lou Reed and Ray Bradbury, the collection offers a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.

Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

“OHMIGOD THERE ARE GEARS COMING OUT OF MY HEAD hang on it’s a new book cover,” Gaiman tweeted today. And he’s quite right—thar be gears here:

The-View-from-the-Cheap-Seats-by-Neil-Gaiman

And if that weren’t enough Neil Gaiman news for one week, we heard about a second something this morning: a special edition of Neverwhere illustrated by Children’s Laureate and frequent Gaiman collaborator Chris Riddell. Here’s the aforementioned author on how it came about:

“Last year Neverwhere was voted, by the public, their most beloved book about London, and Chris drew the Neverwhere characters on a bench shaped like a book, that would go up for auction. From that moment on, his doom was sealed. He was going to have to draw the characters in the book that could be bought by everybody, not just the lucky winners of a bench in a charity auction. Unfortunately, Chris is the busiest man in the world, and, as [he was] immediately made Children’s Laureate,‎ following this, getting him to draw Neverwhere seemed unlikely. Fortunately, he wanted to.”

Fortunately for us all: The Sleeper and the Spindle, which I think marked the last time Gaiman and Riddell put their heads together, was incredible. “Fun—for all the family, in fact—and truly beautiful too,” as I put it in this Christmas edition of the Short Fiction Spotlight.

Said special edition of Neverwhere will be released just six weeks on from the ultimate unveiling of The View From the Cheap Seats, making the months of summer an embarrassment of riches for myself and Gaiman’s many other admirers.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and Tor.com. He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.

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