Jeffrey Davies looks at the history of the celebrity book, whether it be “a memoir, an essay collection, a cookbook, a book of poetry, or a self-help book.” He discusses the rise of the ghostwriter, what happens when celebrity culture and science clash (for example, Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks and health books), and whether celebrity books make it harder for other books to get published.
From the Chicago Tribune:
The memoir, at once literary and fact-based, js a shape-shifter, a container for a diverse array of voices, stories and narrative techniques. A sampling of this year’s entries exemplify the genre’s elasticity. In eclectic formats, they speak of trauma and healing, family dysfunction, the limitations of medical science, and the forging of identity in the face of social and cultural obstacles.
In an article summarizing the ups and downs of this past year’s literary prizes worldwide, Somak Ghoshal concludes:
The reality of judging a prize is complicated by a multitude of conflicting factors. The impulse to do right by being aware of the conditions in which a writer or an artist produces their work often clashes with the duty to uphold aesthetic merit above all else. But these days, the solution seems to come from the contenders themselves. In August, writer Olivia Laing shared the James Tait Black prize for fiction with her fellow nominees because “competition has no place in art”. More recently, the four shortlisted artists for the Turner Prize, one of Britain’s most prestigious awards for the arts, requested the jury to divide the prize equally among them. If this trend continues, it will soon become unfashionable to run for competitions, or to win any.
I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, and I often talk about the use of genre tropes in these books. Here Diane Zhang describes several of those tropes and discusses both the origin and recent examples of each.
This article in The Guardian examines how J.M. Barrie “toned down Peter Pan’s character to suit audiences in 1911” as he edited his manuscript for publication.
Barrie’s original manuscript, entitled Peter Pan and Wendy, was published earlier this month.
© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown