Ghostwriting is a thankless job, I’m sure. There’s a new movie out called Ghostwriter I’d like to see. I have no idea what it’s about or if it’s any good, but it’s got two of my favorite words in its title, so I’m in.
The whole ghostwriting thing has perked my interest lately. There’s readers out there who actually think the celebrity memoirs they are reading are written by the celebrity whose name is on the cover. The same celebrity who would surprise us all by writing a complete sentence, claims to, in fact, have written an entire book. But delve further and you’ll find not only did they not write it, they likely had not even read it—which explains some awkward moments on Oprah or author interviews when asked to expand on their feelings their very poignant chapter thirty-two or their feelings about a nude scene in chapter four. The celebrity is then leaving the question hanging while he or she thinks “Which nude scene?” “What chapter thirty-two? They told me they had written 320 pages at 10 pages each chapter. Who said anything about how many chapters?” Meanwhile, the network had gone to a commercial while said celebrity contemplates math and other oddities regarding their book.
When you read the acknowledgements there might be mention of some thanks to someone who may or may not have helped write their book. But before you condemn the celebrity for not owning up to their own fraud, think, it might be the ghostwriter who begged for anonymity.
It’s crazy when you think about it. If we found out Elvis had been lip-synching all this time, there’d be a riot, a shakedown, a toppling of Tower Records. What if record producers decided for us what a singer should look like, thereby selling us beauty with another’s voice? It wouldn’t fly—think Milli Vanilli—so why should it fly in the literary world?
I can proudly say I’ve never read a celebrity memoir, but I have read celebrity biographies—authorized or not—and find some of them to be quite entertaining without buying into the whole unethical nasty business of trickery.
What are your thoughts? Should publishers hold authors by the same standards as the music industry? Have you read any good celebrity memoirs? Have you read any good celebrity memoirs written by the celebrity?