Thursday, October 25, 2007

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.

5 comments:

bertieronbob said...

Funnily enough I read this very morning that John Prescott's autobiography is to be ghost-written by Hunter Davies.

Admittedly, Mr Davies is someone you'd be quite glad to have helping you out, but does this mean Prezza is in the same league as Katona and Campbell?

Rhetorical question, I know

Five-Centres said...

Whatever you do, don't get me started on Kerry. Liking this blog by the way.

LF Barfe said...

Why thank you, five-centres. I love you too.

As I said, Bertie, there's a world of difference between a well-ghosted autobiography and any sort of ghosted novel. There is a readership for the life story of any public figure. Not always a large one, but a readership, nonetheless. That public figure's life story may well be fascinating (as, for all his various faults, the rise of Prezza is), but the public figure cannot, for whatever reason, get it down on tape or paper. In Prescott's case, he's a very busy man, and his struggles with the English language are well-documented. So, it makes sense to use a good ghost-writer, and 'oonter is just about the best you can get.

In contrast, why should anyone give a tinker's cuss for a story that Kerry Katona made up between rehab stints and Iceland ads, but couldn't be bothered to write up herself? With her autobiography, there was a reason for the story to be told. With her 'novel', there is no such reason, apart from the desperation of the publishing industry.

Clair said...

Oh god - this will really make you go KABOOM! then...

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.
php?storyID=9285

LF Barfe said...

Dare I even look? I'm on fairly serious beta-blockers as it is.