The Librarian’s Cellar Book of the Week: The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

There is something for everyone between the pages of this much quoted book. Passionate tributes to his favourite writers, some of them his very good friends. Entertaining essays, keynote speeches, personal experiences (a rather sobering piece from 2014: So Many Ways to Die in Syria) and throughout, praise for comic books, illustrators, artists and some lovely references to family. For readers of classic horror, there are tributes that ought to make you want to revisit the likes of Poe and Stoker. In his introduction to a 2004 edition of Poe’s Selected Poems and Tales, Gaiman suggests, ‘Read the poems aloud. Read the stories aloud. Feel the way the words work in your mouth, the way the syllables bounce and roll and drive and repeat, or almost repeat’. And on Stoker’s Dracula, in an introduction to an annotated 2008 version by Leslie S. Klinger, Gaiman writes that ‘First you read it casually, and then, once you’ve put it away, you might find yourself, almost against your will, wondering about the things in the crevices of the novel, things hinted at, things implied.’ On writing, take this insightful thought from his introduction to a 2008 edition of James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks, ‘When I was a young writer, I liked to imagine that I was paying someone for every word I wrote, rather than being paid for it; it was a fine way to discipline myself only to use the words I needed.’ A mini masterclass right there! The View from the Cheap Seats in a wonderful gem, filled with perceptive thoughts and inspiration. Don’t pass it by!

 

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Caroline E Farrell is a writer, filmmaker and blogger. She is the author of the novel, LADY BETH and has written and directed the short film FRAMED (2018). She has also written and co-produced the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013).

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