Radio 2 seems hell-bent on sending my blood pressure through the ceiling at the moment. The last item on the 9 o'clock news concerned the vital information that Kerry Katona has become a novelist. Cut to a clip of la Katona admitting that she was more surprised than anyone at the development, on account of being dyslexic. She then went on to explain that someone else had written the book, and that "all she had to do" was come up with the plot, characters and the way that they intertwined. Does this make her a novelist? Not as long as my arse faces south. Will her book sell more copies than a half-decent effort by a first-time author who actually put the words in the right order themselves? Why, of course.
What exactly is the point of a ghost-written novel, apart from to shift a few copies in an increasingly debased market? Ghost-written autobiographies can be worthwhile - a skilful ghost creating the book that the nominal author would have written, had they not been too busy, stupid or strung-out on crack. I'm no football fan, but Tony Cascarino's 'Full Time' (written 'with' Paul Kimmage) is a superb piece of work - a tragi-comic morality tale. The big public seemed to grasp that ghost-written novels were an environmental scandal back when Naomi Campbell tried to foist 'The Swan' on the dumpbins of the nation. Since then, however, Jordan has proved that you can flog any amount of third-party drivel to the lumpenproletariat as long as your tits are big enough. If you wonder why the book trade's fucked (and don't believe anyone who tells you it isn't), you need look no further.