"There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife."
Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book has had its movie adaptation put on hold. Neil Jordan of Interview with the Vampire fame had written a screenplay and planned on directing, but the financing was coming from Miramax which got stripped down for parts last year.
The Graveyard Book is a full length children’s book in the vein of Coraline, i.e. it’s a dark, hilarious, and illustrated throwback to good old German fairy tales where children die and bad things don’t necessarily stay dead. Ah nineteenth-century Germany, where the children’s stories were so fucked up that the kids thought growing up to be fascist meant being the good guy.
Gaiman had a hell of a 2009, as he relates in an interview with the LA Times: “I had a really strange year. I was leading up to the writing of an Anansi Boys screenplay, which begins with an incredibly funny sequence where the protagonist’s father keels over from a surprise heart attack. And as I was doing that my father keeled over and died of a surprise heart attack. It’s not terribly funny though, is it?”
There’s a tendency to see artists and writers as sorts of little gods, dancing through lives charmed by money or fame or the gift for making beauty out of thin air. Tabloids make their daily pence on blowing holes in that myth for some celebrities, flash bulbs popping and cameras clicking to show stark the tawdriness underneath the veneers. Writers avoid a lot of that, if only because as a breed their own darkness and perversions tend to be behind closed doors in dark rooms rather than at clubs and in the backseats of limos. But there’s another hidden show behind the curtain too, not just the gross underbelly that lets us see that the famous are just as perverse and dark as us, but the common sufferings that let us see that they carry the same chains as us too. It’s not as lurid, not as secretly exciting, but it doesn’t matter if you’re president, pope, prophet, prole or patrician, the death of a father is the sort of sucker punch that is universally human.
In any case, while the financing is dead on the Graveyard Book film project, this might keep you sated for a while, if darkly handsome British writers reading their own works whilst wearing all black and a leather jacket does something for you. Just remember, Amanda Palmer has claimed him.
On Gaiman’s website you can watch a series of book readings done by Gaiman during his book tour for The Graveyard Book. Each video is a chapter of the book read aloud, giving you a sort of audio book in the browser experience.