HW Assignment: Prompt 4

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?


7 thoughts on “HW Assignment: Prompt 4

  1. That’s a compelling thought – the music industry using many writers for songs that any given singer can sing and instantly be recognized for….hmmmmm. I guess….the writers are listed, though, rather than just Taylor Swift only featuring her name on the song’s label.

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  2. If it has his name on it, it’s popular. Trust me. The holds lists are always a mile long. Patrons don’t realize he’s not actually writing a lot of it anymore, and they don’t care. Sometimes you see his name and with and then the other author if the series has gotten really popular. But most of his stuff nowadays isn’t really his. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s a crappy thing to do though.

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  3. On the fake memoirs…lying about the reality of the story doesn’t necessarily make the book itself more interesting, but it makes the author more interesting. Take the guy who wrote A Million Little Pieces…he turned into a celebrity for awhile! I bet he wouldn’t have gotten near as much face time on TV shows had he just written a fictional novel about overcoming drug addiction. Unless you write a superstar phenomenon like Harry Potter, fiction authors just don’t get that much mainstream attention.

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  4. I do believe that the fake memoir authors decided to present them as memoirs rather than fiction – or even “based on a true story” – books has to do with the extra appeal the works can have as “true” stories. On the author mill question – something I find interesting is that the author mill has been around for a long time (The Hardy Boys series, for example), but rather than centering around a character like Nancy Drew, they now center around an author. I wonder if without all of the effort into marketing the author as a brand (like Patterson) this would be possible. A lot of people would not be familiar with the authors names of the Hardy Boys mysteries, but they know the names of the characters. In reverse, I believe many would recognize James Patterson’s name without recognizing his characters’ names. It’s an interesting reverse!

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