This week we were asked to read a variety of articles featuring book controversies and to respond to at least one of them. Topics included celebrity book clubs, fake memoirs, and author mills.
First, I would like to briefly talk about fake memoirs. My initial reaction is one of disgust–especially about the people who would write a fake holocaust survivor memoir. It seems disrespectful and kind of exploitative. At the same time, nobody would bat an eye if these works were published as fiction in the first place. It’s not the story itself that people seem to have an issue with, but the manner in which the story is presented as true. It makes me wonder why these people made the decision to present their stories as truth. Why didn’t they pursue the fiction route in the first place? The only thing I can think is that these stories wouldn’t be interesting otherwise. What makes these particular stories compelling, in the end, is that people think they’re true. They seem to be stories about people who have overcome great trials and just wouldn’t have the same emotional impact as a work of fiction.
The article that I really thought was interesting was the James Patterson article. I honestly had no idea that he has collaborated with other authors and has perhaps contracted out some ideas. It seems to me that James Patterson has created this brand and is actually taking a risk by attaching his name to books that he didn’t fully write. If the book ends up being a dud due to the coauthor, James Patterson is probably even more implicated than the coauthor would be. At the same time, I do see the argument about Patterson reaping the benefits without necessarily earning it–taking credit for other peoples’ work. In the article, though, PW spoke with at least one of Patterson’s coauthors and he didn’t seem to mind or be angry about it. So I guess that makes me feel like, if the coauthors don’t care, then why should we? The last point I’ll make is this: how is this situation different from a singer “taking credit” for songs that they didn’t fully write? Let’s be honest, do we really know how much Taylor Swift actually does in the songwriting process? But we definitely recognize “Shake It Off” as a T-Swift song, ignoring the fact that there are two other names listed under “writers”. This is normal in the songwriting industry, so why the double standard here?