On one of the writing communities I inhabit, I see that scholar and linguist Snooki, of "Jersey Shore" fame, has a novel coming out.
Where oh where to begin?
I’ll start by saying that I don’t begrudge anyone a chance at success, or the ability to make money in a legal fashion. I’m sure that if test group samples showed that no one would buy the book, Snooki would not have been able to sell it, so good for her and the publisher.
Beyond that, I say we’re doomed.
What bothers me so much is the (high) likelihood that the book will be total garbage – and that the public will lap it up simply because of the name on the cover. I don’t have to read the book to guess this, as there is precedent. Snooki isn’t the first reality star to sell a novel. Lauren Conrad has two out, with another on the way. British model Katie Price (AKA Jordan) has a series of children’s books out. I’ve not read any of Ms. Price’s books but I did read the first forty pages of Ms. Conrad’s first novel before I had to put it down. As far as writing goes, it pretty much broke every tenet of the writing code:
– Complete lack of any "showing", with dull, repetitive language
– Overkill on the adverbs
– Flat, inconsistent characterization
And maybe the book wasn’t aimed at me, since I am not a teenage girl (though I cry like one when my football team loses), but I thought it was just boring.
An acquaintance suggested to me that Ms. Conrad had her books ghost-written. Irrelevant; her name is on the cover so she gets the credit and assumes the responsibility. Per above, I strongly believe that if she submitted the same bad novel and her name was Annie Everygal, she would have been rejected.
If recent history is any indicator, the fastest way to get an author to come to my site is bash their work. Ms. Conrad is welcome to step forward and defend herself and I will print any such response. Even if her books are poorly written, I think she’s pretty cute.
But no, the problem doesn’t really lay with the writers. It’s with the audience. As long as the public continues to treat celebrity as the new nobility, then anything attached to their name will end up on the shelves. Fiction novels by celebrities are just an extension of reality TV, tabloid magazines, and paparazzi-driven websites. People want to buy in to that culture, they want to be hip and cool and edgy. In the right circles, proudly saying, "I just read Snooki’s novel, it was sooo good!" probably keeps you in the good graces of your cohorts. There are lots of people in this country with that mindset.
Which is why I bought a 20-acre ranch out west in the mountainous highlands.
On the webpage containing the original article, one of the comments was (I’m paraphrasing), "I’d be more impressed if she could read a book."
I think that pretty much sums it up.