Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ghostwriting and lost gems

Most writers I know don't care for the notion of ghostwriting; that writerly integrity we hold onto so hard demands that the author write every single word him- or herself, dammit. The flipside is, it's usually good money, but the work itself can be draining. I've never really wanted to ghost anything -- I'll stick with my own byline, thanks -- but a case can certainly be made for it. Adams' article primarily discusses British personalities (with an emphasis on sports stars), which may render some of it incomprehensible to us Yanks, but there's illuminating material in it, just the same:
It seems to me that such books are rather a last resort of wish fulfilment. We invest so much of our culture in sport and celebrity that it feels necessary that the principal players have something to say for themselves. The soundbites you hear on Sky Sports News, or the quotes that are reheated in Heat will never be enough. The frustration of celebrities is they are in a world we desire but are unable to articulate how we imagine it feels. That's why the ghost - who exists in a hinterland between reality and surreality - is so engaging. He or she provides a voice that is halfway between his or her mundane life - and therefore ours - and that of the subject.
  • Michael Jan details smaller presses' attempts to unearth out-of-print gems at the Columbia Spectator.
The New York Review of Books Classics series boasts some really great stuff; I've really enjoyed the works they've published by Georges Simenon, Alvaro Mutis and J. F. Powers. It's gotten to the point where whenever I see the NYRB logo on a book's spine I'll pick it up for immediate inspection, like I do with CDs put out by Tzadik or Varese Sarabande or Impulse. There are dozens of great authors who've written lots of books that have gone out of print; I'd love to see works by Laurens van der Post, Arthur Koestler and Pauline Kael, among others, get republished and rediscovered. And when, oh when is some enterprising company going to reissue Cameron Crowe's Fast Times at Ridgemont High (a nonfiction work which was the basis for the film)? The continued absence of that particular title has always been a mystery to me; I've always wanted to read it, but I've never been able to find it in any library anywhere, and I don't particularly feel like dropping $50 or more on some battered old paperback.


Anonymous said...

jason - just started revolutionary road - excellent book. nice blig. later, keller

Jason Comerford said...

Kellerrrr... I'm thinking of petitioning upper management to change my title from "copy writer" to "copy typist", since there isn't a whole lot of writing going on... thoughts?