I would like to know – is there anything that Neil Gaiman cannot write?
From fantasy to fairytale retellings to children’s to bestselling novels and comics. He seems to have done it all. Even Dr Who episodes. And he’s got the awards to prove it!
He has written one of my all-time favourite comic series, Sandman, but I believe the very first book of his that I read was Stardust.
And here he is with a collection of non-fiction writing, from introductions to speeches to tributes. Some are insightful, such as his “All Books Have Genders,” others are just simply inspiring, like “Telling Lies for a Living… And Why We Do It: The Newberry Medal Speech 2009”. Others are very specific, such as his thoughts on Doctor Who or G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown – and may require some previous knowledge on said topics.
The best of his pieces are the more personal ones, like when he talks about how libraries were his second home when he was a kid. Or when he writes about his dear friend Terry Pratchett, whom he interviewed in 1985 – Pratchett’s first ever interview. Or those words he wrote for Tori Amos’ tour book:
“Tori is wise and witchy and wickedly innocent. What you see is what you get: a little delirium, a lot of delight. There’s fairy blood inside her, and a sense of humor that shimmers and illuminates and turns the world upside down.”
And that rather awesome piece for Time Out (‘Six to Six’) where he just wanders the streets of London late at night, writing about whatever happened (hint: not very much – but because it is Neil Gaiman I will still read it). This is the guy after all, whom people will pay money (specifically, donate to a good cause) to hear read the Cheesecake Factory menu out loud. His piece on attending the Oscars is another fun one.
I love reading all those bits and pieces about his life, and especially the way libraries and librarians were such a big part of his world.
The thing with a smorgasbord like this is it’s not meant to be read in one gulp. It is a book that takes time – and with 502 pages (not counting the index), a good amount of time. It’s a good palate cleanser – for those days when you’ve finished an intense (or agonizing or just plain unforgettable) book that you cannot let go of, and you are in a book hangover and feel unable to pick up anything new. Read one of Gaiman’s essays, especially one of those that talks about writing or a writer or reading or libraries, and I think it would inspire you to read again.
Neil Gaiman – curing book hangovers one essay at a time.
I received this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for a review.