Why? How can you not hate a guy who comes up with an idea that’s as evocative and brilliantly simple as The Graveyard Book?
I mean, there are some ideas that just fall from the sky and hit you like an Acme anvil. If you’re lucky, you pull yourself out from underneath and regain your higher brain functions in time to do something with it. If you’re lucky and talented, what you do with it will maybe even be good.
Neil’s very lucky, and he’s very talented. It’s a combination that’s easy to hate. When I say The Graveyard Book is Kipling’s The Jungle Book set in a graveyard, that’s just what’s called the logline. It’s the one-sentence shorthand that will let producers -- who have, in general, the attention span of a spider monkey on PCP -- immediately grasp the concept. (Assuming they know who Kipling is, a factoid I wouldn’t be anxious to put money on,)
No, there’s a lot more to the book than just a clever idea. I don’t intend to review it here, because frankly, it’s more fun to rant about Neil. It is, however, a piece of work well worth your time. But you knew that already.
Although he’s quite easy to hate in terms of talent, he is also, unfortunately, a very nice guy, which makes hating him somewhat harder. (Not impossible. Just harder.) And he and I wrote this book together, which makes hating him harder still. In fact, I really have to work at it.
The Graveyard Book. Buy it. Read it. I guarantee Disney won’t be optioning this one anytime soon.