Three's A Crowd by Patrick Neate
09 October 2015
Apologies. It’s been a long time. We shouldn’t have left you; at least not without a strong rhyme to step to. But, we hope the wait will prove worthwhile … We have, you see, spent the summer beavering away on the third edition of the Book Slam Annual and it’s finally ready. The sharp-eyed among you may note that our first annual was published in 2011 and it’s now 2015. Do the proverbial math. In fact, do the actual math. Or, since we’re English, do the sums …
What can we say? The last couple of years have seen a significant contraction throughout the arts sector. Now there’s a euphemism to blow your nose on. Let’s put it another way: we do this for the love (because we’ve got a lot of love) not for the money (because we’ve not a lot of that). We have to eat and, sadly, Willy Wonka’s whole meal in a stick of gum remains as yet uninvented.
A wise man once told me that everyone wants a creative undertaking to be quick, cheap and excellent, but sadly you only get to choose two of the three. A good maxim, eh? We went for cheap and excellent.
Nonetheless, Book Slam Volume III is finally complete and looking pretty spesh. The first two editions collected new fiction and poetry from our favourite alumni (William Boyd, David Nicholls, Irvine Welsh, Jackie Kay and many more – have you bought them yet?). This one takes a different tack. Called ‘Three’s A Crowd’, it’s a collection of interviews and essays that addresses the writer’s life as triangulated through the points of their work and their readers. It really is a fascinating, readable and endlessly entertaining insight for any book lover.
The essays come from some of contemporary fiction’s brightest sparks, who write with humility, wit and wisdom about their craft. Matt Haig, bestselling author of ‘The Humans’ and ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’, presents one of his incomparable lists, which should provide succour to real writers and sucker the rest. Mark Watson, the acclaimed stand-up, writes about finding the space to be a great novelist … or not. The brilliant Kamila Shamsie addresses her experience as a Pakistani writing in English with consumate erudition, while Alex Preston, author of the exceptional ‘In Love And War', reveals the novel he will never write. Nikita Lalwani (have you read ‘The Village’? You really must) describes the tightrope between truth and fiction and a time she almost fell off. The collection is concluded by Jessie Burton, whose bestselling debut, ‘The Miniaturist’, was one of the publishing sensations of recent years. She writes with touching honesty of the challenges of doing it all again.
Every copy of ‘Three’s A Crowd’ is beautifully cloth-bound and signed by every essayist. Like its predecessors, it is truly a collector’s item. Please collect. Sales feed back into Book Slam and allow us to keep doing what we do – bring diverse, interesting, engaging writing to diverse, interesting, engaged audiences. Thank you.