11.16.2005

A Snarkling calls Foul

A Snarkling holds up a glass, darkly:

Ok, now that we've all had a good yuck about the poor little rich girl, what if Miss Snark had said this was a bootlegged version of the latest J Weiner or C Bushnell? How do you think the snarklings would have then reacted?
Strikes me as the reverse of the coin of Doris Lessing shopping around a ms. under a pseudonym and experiencing universal rejection.

I like to think I call dreck when I see it. There are previous posts taking Robert Parker to task for bad writing. And the Snarklings are not all that shy about weighing in with contrary opinions.

The difference here is that clearly Nicole Richie has a book deal because it's part of an overall marketing plot, not because she has wanted to be a writer since she was six, or she went to an MFA program, or she had something to say.

And Doris Lessing writes some really weird stuff. The Good Terrorist was my most recent favorite but I've never managed to get through some of her earlier stuff.

I understand your point, but I don't think it's valid in this particular brouhaha.

23 comments:

harridan said...

Miss Snark has the right of it here. This group is vocal about what they do and do not like, and none of us believe we all have to agree. Often we don't.

Does it rankle feathers to see books published with huge publicity campaigns only because the person is a celeb? You betcha!

Does it rankle us further to read some of the book and cringe at the writing? Double you betcha!

My mom was a waitress and my dad a bus driver. You won't see me putting that on my query letter. Which is the point. To get a big buck deal because of your celebrity or that of your parents, it just makes us nuts. I have no problem with such a book if the writing holds up. I'm a gawker just like most of the humans on this planet. LOL

And I'm not a reading snob at all. Often I'm not into some of Miss Snark's favorites. I know what I like and what I don't, and that's just the way it is. Sorry Nicole.

Bernita said...

Right on, harridan!

Bunneh said...

Yeah, I'd have to concur here. As obnoxious as NR is, I think the Snarklings who griped and cringed at the excerpt did so because it was juvenile and poorly written, not because it was NR's book. I've taught composition to college freshmen and sophomores, and reading the excerpt set off more mental alarm bells than I could count. *shudder*

On the up-side, I did get some extra amusement out of the link. I shared it with my circle of online pals, and we all got a hearty chuckle out of it (while grinding our teeth). One of them asked if it was meant to be a horror novel, because she was properly terrified. Scary stuff, that. ;)

harridan said...

And in my mind, you have to take the unhappy snarklings thought a bit further.

What--in all honesty--do you think the chances are that Nicole's book would be pubbed if she wasn't Nicole?

What are the chances that the writing was strong enough that it would have been passed on to a set of readers?

What are the chances that it was so devastatingly well written that the biggie of the company jumped on the bandwagon and said "this is fantastic, we have to have a huge ad campaign."

Or would it have recieved one of those nameless, faceless form rejections with the little checkboxes on it?

On a blind test, this def would have failed, in my humble opinion.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

"part of an overall marketing plot"

... this bothers me much less than the one-trick pony. I'm thinking of a blogger who has one story to tell, and that he has a book deal makes me cringe.

He is stealing the attention and resourses of editors who are doubtlessly missing great writers with MANY stories to tell, and he definitely didn't want "to be a writer since he was six, or went to an MFA program, or had something to say."

Besides, he's a jerk already. Think how he'll be when the book comes out.

Maria said...

Celebs don't "steal" anything from other authors. Publishers and editors wouldn't publish them if there weren't readers out there. These books sell or they wouldn't get the resources that they do.

Rick said...

harridan -

What are the chances that Nicole Richie even wrote it? My sense of the excerpt is that it was bad in a somewhat Bulwer-Lytton-contest way - what you get from a ghostwriter trying to sound like her.

sex -

The blogger may indeed be a jerk, but perhaps he does have one story to tell. Why should he, if in fact it is publishable? Though I presume that agents and publishers prefer authors who have multiple stories to tell - who can become a franchise, even if a modest one.

Rick said...

Oops, I meant "why shouldN'T he, if it is publishable."

Bernita said...

Even "jerks" sometimes write very well.

Harry Connolly said...

Ms. Ritchie's book deal doesn't bother me in the least. I won't be buying her book, reading it, or waiting for the movie. Her sucess takes nothing from me.

On the contrary, I hope her book makes a bunch of money for her publisher so they can afford to take a chance on something new and interesting.

Bunneh said...

rick -

I don't know if I buy the ghostwriter concept. It's not "stylistically" bad; it's just bad. There's nothing to the prose -- no flair whatsoever. A Bulwer-Lytton style is almost... self-mocking, in a way. While the excerpt is mockworthy, I'm not convinced it's aware of its mockworthiness.

Forgive me; I seem to be making up words all over the place. ;)

I'm not saying a ghostwriter isn't possible, because I'm sure it is -- I just don't buy it.

I can't put my finger on what it is about the prose that makes me think the way I think -- it could be the shameless trendiness, the vague bits that should be more specific versus the too-specific bits that eat up space on the page, or the overall immaturity -- because, really, wtf is up with the Holly Golightly reference? It's like she watched half the movie one night on a bender. (The Breakfast at Tiffany's reference is something that, for some reason, really got my back up about the excerpt.)

Caryn said...

Just chiming in to point out that I've seen plenty of disappointment in J Weiner's latest, some of it on here if I'm remembering correctly. Sometimes people have *higher* standards for established authors, and it can be more difficult for them to please an audience, not less.

Bernita said...

Harry, you've summed up my attitude exactly. Thank you.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Rick,
I believe his story is great blog fodder, but it's not hardcover worthy. Some of us know the difference, and it's a shame that his editor doesn't. I should've said that...

I do like the notion that the pub will make a shitload of money and will take a chance on something new... unfortunately history has shown that all media forms tend to go for do-over until it won't sell any more. Think "Survivor."

Fran said...

A little reality check--slots and quotas. Maybe this has only been my experience in publishing, which, granted, is limited to one large nonfiction publisher. But IMO any success Richie's book has might take something away from other writers: slots, or at least potential slots. Assuming you're not writing what Richie's writing, if you're a new writer desiring publication, you better hope Richie's book turns out to be a financial loss for HC. If her book makes a shitload of money, it isn't likely HC will--presto!--start looking for the next Fantastically Written Classic to publish now that they're rolling in Populist Richie-Induced Dough. HC will more likely be looking for the next shittily written Richie-style book because that's been a "proven success." Too many publishers today often only know one-trick: they will keep publishing the same thing over and over and over again because it made them money some time yesterday, even years before, even if it is no longer making them as much money. It has still been a "proven" commodity as opposed to a totally unproven commodity, which is what a totally new kind of book often is: a financial risk. These publishers usually focus on this one way of what they seemingly believe is lower-risk publishing. A learning lag-time is often involved here too, though the better publishers learn they're losing money earlier and jump onto a new one-trick faster, but they will still do the one-trick thingie again and again.

Going on my very limited experience, I think it's likely that only so many books will be "traditionally" published per year. Some publishers have quotas they must meet and cannot exceed, they have predefined slots they must meet and cannot exceed, and they often must meet them by certain time-slots too (like by the end of certain quarters, like the last quarter especially). Richie's book has already been published, so that particular one probably won't specifically take anything away from those of you submitting today, but her book's having been published yesterday may have taken a slot from another, much better writer yesterday. And the probable consequences of more Richie-Style books being published tomorrow if this one's a success today? See my first paragraph above.

occasional_anonymous said...

I'm just glad that celebs don't tend to write in my genre, so I don't have to put on the smiley face and say "very nice, but did you know Dragon isn't usually spelt with a y?".

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I halfta' agree with ric on this one.

If you ever saw Nicole in her reality show the Simple Life, you'd know that not only does she have no concept of a computer, word processor or even a good old typewriter. I doubt that she could be bothered to spend more than two minutes writing anything other than a check for her personal shopper.

It had to be a ghostwriter!

Feisty said...

Life is so unfair. Those danged rich girls got it made. No wonder writers drink.

Feisty

lady t said...

I just hope whoever ghostwrote the Richie book got enough doe-ri-me to take
off for a tropical island to sit back on the beach with plenty of margaritas
on hand and plenty of friends to laugh like hell at the fact that poor lil'
Nicole has to take credit for what will surely one of the top bestselling
remainders of all time.

Oh,and do you think Nicole wears that tiara to booksignings? That would
be interesting to see:)

bordermoon said...

Having read the excerpt of NR's book, I have to say my vote is that she wrote it herself. No ghostwriter would write that badly. Mrs. Petty (yes, that was her name), my tenth grade English teacher, would have been frothing and writing large red Fs on the page by sentence (and I use that word loosely) two.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Oh contrare bordermoon....if the writing had been eloquent and organized, EVERYONE would have been absolutely positive that it was not penned by Miss Richie.

The idea of a ghostwriter is to at least give the illusion that named author penned the tome. Ergo....ditsy socialite...ditsy writing!

bordermoon said...

Well, there is that, Bonnie....

Feemus said...

Oh dear. Ever since the beginning of commercial print culture, folks have been lamenting the presence of hacks. Alexander Pope writes in the beginning of the 18th c:

Is there a Parson, much bemus'd in beer,
A maudlin Poetess, a ryming Peer,
A clerk, foredoom'd his father's soul to cross,
Who pens a stanza, when he should engross?

And guess who we are still reading today?

As awful as the Nicole Richie book is, I am straining to find the injury. Her drivel doesn't keep anyone from writing elegant and interesting works.