Monday, October 19, 2009

The Selfish Side of Memoirs

Anytime a celeb/news-worthy memoir pops up at my publishing house's editorial meetings, one question is asked: Is it no-holds-barred?

Readers always want the dirt, the behind-the-scenes story. People are fascinated by each other. But more often than not, the tellers of such tales couldn't care less. They only want the money.

For example, take Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's doctor who is being indicted for manslaughter and still wants shop around a book. The Daily News reported Sunday:

Michael Jackson's embattled physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, is quietly trying to sell his story, we hear.

With a possible manslaughter indictment sapping his assets, Murray is said to be hoping that a book and/or movie deal could be the perfect hypodermic for a quick cash infusion.

Famed writer-producer Lawrence Schiller confirms that he recently got a call from "an interested party" asking for his advice on how Murray's story could be turned into a book and documentary.

Read more HERE

Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame, even famous people, and they want it for a price. It's so disturbing to me that people are so greedy, especially when it revolves around tragedy, i.e. someone's death, like MJ, or someone's kidnapping, rape, and torture a la Jaycee Dugard (one of the women previously assaulted by Dugard's kidnapper was shopping around a book, very obviously meant for its monetary gain, not for any greater purpose).

If these stories were being told for a genuine reason, if they were meant to teach a lesson or show a side of a the truth readers might not understand otherwise, then that's okay by me. But more often than not, they aren't--just look at OJ Simpson's thankfully cancelled book, If I Did It if you need another example

Whatever happened to telling stories because they are powerful and moving and heartfelt? Memoirs have the potential to be some of the most influential works of writing, and people these days seem to squander that ability. 

One author who doesn't though: Jeannette Walls. While she was never a celebrity in her own right prior to her first book The Glass Castle, she most certainly told her story for a reason. But I'll tell you more about that another day. 

(Yes, this is my own little version of a teaser for a post yet to come on a lecture I attended by Walls, so keep reading!)

1 comment:

  1. Really, I mean, really, who would PAY to read a book by Michael Jackson's doctor? Or most of these people whose interaction with the public should be limited to soundbites.