In the post below, I referred to a "co-authored" novel by a famous person, written about in the Times. And lo and behold! Today, the NYT reports on the trend of ghost-written novels by celebrities. Yet Georgina Bloomberg is not mentioned in the later piece, which is much snarkier - or at least more cynical - about the phenomenon, and which focuses on books "by" various reality-television stars:
Like a branded fragrance or clothing line, the novel — once quaintly considered an artistic endeavor sprung from a single creative voice — has become another piece of merchandise stamped with the name of celebrities, who often pass off the book as their work alone despite the nearly universal involvement of ghostwriters.And, "What celebrities do contribute are storylines thinly based on their own lives [...]"
Meanwhile, from the Bloomberg article:
In “The A Circuit,” a young-adult novel by Ms. Bloomberg that just arrived in bookstores, the father figure, Rick Aaronson, is a blunt-talking Wall Street billionaire who lives in a Manhattan town house and “owns half of New York.” His older daughter, Callie, is an Ivy League graduate with a passion for politics. And his younger daughter, Thomasina, or Tommi, is an award-winning equestrian who chafes at her father’s expectations of a traditional career.Doesn't take much of a clef to sort that one out.
The word "author" appears twice in the earlier piece, in reference to Bloomberg, not counting the time she uses it in reference to herself. Not once in the piece about Snooki & Co. It's buried, really, that a publisher "offered Ms. Bloomberg a two-book contract and put her with a co-writer, Catherine Hapka." The story here is, Bloomberg's gone and written a book, breaking out on her own, emerging from her father's shadow, etc, etc. "Writing has never come easily to Ms. Bloomberg," we learn, the implication being that she overcame this challenge.
Perhaps this is just a coincidence - it's a big paper, and different journalists may have different feelings about the same phenomenon. Yet the writer of the Snooki piece, Julie Bosman, was also one of the co-authors (in the non-euphemistic sense, I'd assume, given it's a newspaper) of the Georgina Bloomberg profile.
Clearly a choice was made - by Bosman, by co-author Michael Barbaro, by the paper, who knows, to place the Kardashians in one category, Bloomberg in another, even if all are, in publishing terms, part of the same phenomenon. What I'm now wondering is, was this out of some pressure - political? personal? - to portray Bloomberg in a flattering light? Because it's not obvious to me why a silly but at least self-made celeb (that's you, Snookums) would be more of an embarrassment as a "novelist" than someone with a famous last name, other than if this is a question of class, dahling, and no one that faux-bronzed could possibly be deep.
Or was it more in the Styles Section vein, where on the surface, it's all rah-rah this new novel, rah rah its brave author, but where conveniently enough, comments are opened, and class warfare ensues? Or is this not really the question - Styles style is precisely about writing a piece that will make the subject feel warm and fuzzy, while making sure enough ridiculousness shows between the lines that even a dense and/or conservative reader will, by the end of it, be storming the Bastille.
As for the phenomenon itself, predictably enough given that I'm a grad student in literature, I'm not thrilled about it. While the peak of my fiction-writing abilities was back in high school, I'm plenty annoyed on behalf of all the people who are actually trying to publish novels that these are what get published, and on behalf of anyone concerned with the future of fiction, where the pickings will be slimmer than otherwise, as the definition of "novel" shifts to be a genre welcoming of, and perhaps in time dominated by, this kind of thing. It's frustrating that only those in-the-know get that these books were ghost-written, and that the purported authors' egos are now inflated by a sense of themselves as Writer.
But there's also the question of privilege - to publish a novel at all, it helps to have spare time and connections, to have received a good education and thus to have writing skills, etc. It was never and was never going to be fair who would get their stories told, but at least there was some presumption of, this is someone capable of conveying that story in writing. This, however, is another level entirely. Whatever happened to "as told to"?