Monday, 16 February 2009

Disturbing Publishing Trends

1. The Misery Memoir

I HATE these books.

It is like a competition to see who has had the shittiest, most abusive, most God-awful childhood.

Who is buying these books?! I don't think I have ever seen them on sale in a normal book shop - only the supermarket. So the educationally sub-normal then.

The covers of these books are the most manipulative things EVER. Usually some Bambi-eyed, blonde haired child looking right down the barrel of the camera with the title and author name written in a font which looks like a child's scribble.

As for the actual titles, 'Please Daddy, No!' or 'Don't Tell Mummy', it sounds like something you would hear (and laugh at) on an episode of Brass Eye. Simon Hoggart totally gets what I am saying when he suggested the best title for one such book would be 'No, Grandad! Not On My Face!'

I am not suggesting that child abuse is funny. But what are we gaining from every man and his dog telling us that they are the pillar of virtuous rising above? Surely we could get this message from just one such book without the flooding of the market which has followed?

What kind of masochistic, misery magnet would choose to read tons of these books? Not even Morrissey.

2. Chick Lit

Millions of trees die so chick lit can be published. And they really shouldn't bother.

I actually like sappy romances if they are well written and the characters are not ridiculous - I own 'The Notebook', people.

And I am not saying that everything I read is high brow - though obviously 99.9% is - but poorly written chick lit makes a John Grisham pulp fiction seem like Tolstoy's 'War And Peace'.

I am talking about the books with titles referencing finding a husband, shoes or shopping. So, pretty much all of them then.

The 'plucky' main character (who will have a name like Arabella Wedgewood-Cheesecake) will be some single 30-something who is seemingly a functioning adult and will invariably have a good career, friends and an hilarious semi-functional family, but they will be waking up in a cold sweat convinced they will die alone and decrepit because the only way to be truly fulfilled is to have a husband and children.

The husband may initially enter the plot as some sort of toxic bachelor who has to be tamed and forced to settle down, but it will all be worth the effort in the end. He will also probably have some ridiculously Grey's Anatomy 'McDreamy' style nickname - which will make me hate him even more.

This genre reached its nadir for me with the publication of 'Mr Darcy's Diary'. OK. Let's consider the publishing exec's reasoning behind this one:
' Well, women loved 'Bridget Jones' Diary' didn't they?' (Incidentally, I consider that book to be approx. 523.32% cleverer than pretty much all other chick lit)
'And they also loved Mr Darcy as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's 'Pride And Prejudice' didn't they?'
' Well, and call me a maverick if you will, how's about we combine the two?'
' Yeah, I know I'm good.'
' Like printing our own money, my friend.'

I guess I want a book with more action in it and a more three dimensional set of characters - not something which could conceivably be my real life (minus the career, friends and functional family) at some point in the next 15 years!

3. The Celebrity Book

I love to hate celebrities.

I have never read an autobiography for the simple reason that I do not like anyone enough to want to read about their 'amazing' life - although I have on my 'to-read' pile Nelson Mandela's autobiog as I think it is technically illegal to hate him.

Nicole Richie - and is there a more pointless form of celebrity than being Lionel Richie's adopted daughter? I mean not even his biological daughter. Who's next on the A-list? Madonna's butcher? That Guy Who Once Walked Past J-Lo? Her With The Face? Him With The Hair? - wrote (and I use the term loosely) a novel called 'The Truth About Diamonds'.

The plot can be summarised thusly: Hollywood wild child becomes famous for being famous and is a bad role model in pretty much every aspect of her life that you would care to examine. So far, so high concept, Jerry Bruckheimer.

What pushes me over the edge (other than the fact that this book actually EXISTS) is the fact that the front cover - and remember that this is a novel, kids - is a massive photo of Nicole Richie herself and that the book has a middle section featuring 20 glossy full colour photos of, guess who, Nicole Richie.

Now a glossy photo middle section really enlivened my reading of 'Jude The Obscure' by Thomas Hardy. And I loved the glamour shot of Lousia May Alcott on the cover of 'Little Women' as much as the next girl, but Christ on a bike, the British Library is keeping a copy of this book for the Nation and posterity. If a 'Fahrenheit 451' type scenario ever surfaces, I know what we can use for kindling.

Now if Paris Hilton (or insert other disposable airhead here) ever wrote a book all by herself and editors, publishers, agents etc. left it completely untouched, THAT is a book which I would buy.


mer said...

please tell me there isn't ACTUALLY a book called "Mr. Darcy's Diary"...


For the love of LITERATURE.

Jessclub7 said...

Mer, upon further investigation it appears that there are TWO books called 'Mr Darcy's Diary' in existence - one by a Maya Slater and another by an Amanda Grange.

You get the burning pitchforks, I'll assemble the angry mob ...