Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Celebrity Memoirs

Although I haven't posted since April, I'm still thinking of memoirs. My husband, an ex-newspaperman and CEO, will be published by McGraw Hill in September. Of course, the usual memoirs published by legacy publishers these days are celebrity memoirs, because America eats up celebrities like chocolate bars. And yet, nine-tenths of these tell-alls are ghost written. "Life", the well-reviewed memoir of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, was praised for its writing style, so unusual in a rock musician. The obvious answer is that Keith Richards didn't write his memoir; he either dictated it or talked to his ghost, the excellent writer, James Fox. Fox then set about to write the book using the musician's chatty, intelligent speech. If Keith Richards or other celebrities did write their memoirs, they would be no more intriguing than the one from the little old lady from Dubuque. Incidentally, my husband is (or was) a celebrity of sorts, and so far the trade reviews like his title. He can also write, having been a journalist and tells good stories. So, congrats to him and the rest of you who have no clout can try X-Libris. B. Phillips

It's My Life, Isn't It?

Last year it was book clubs; this year, it is memoirs. Every other Baby Boomer's parent, feeling the cool hand of death approaching, is scribbling down his/her life's experiences, to have a record for the grandchildren is the excuse, but really it's a hope to get published, achieve that longed-for fifteen minutes of fame. As an acquiring editor for Bridge Works, I receive many of these heartfelt but amateurish writings, and feel bad that someone has convinced the authors that the world is waiting for their life records.
But Granny keeps at it, and today there is a reward. It's called self-publishing. Today, that old geezer who was praised in the St. Louis Post Dispatch for his innovative presidency of Rotary does not have to die anonymously. He simply gives LuLu or X-Libris a copy of his ink-stained, tear-stained manuscript and the self-publishing titans will produce as many copies as desired, complete with a dashing book jacket, blurbs by friends, and even photos or drawings never meant to be seen by other than the family. Most self-published writers think the expense is well worth it.
In today's world, no one's life goes unremarked and there are definitely second acts for anyone with know-how.
Barbara Phillips
B. Phillips