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Ghost stories

The Guardian site has a survey of the long tradition of ghostwriting, pegged to a recent book deal for footballer Wayne Rooney, who has signed a five-book deal (!) with HarperCollins in the U.K. Hunter Davies, the author of a William Wordsworth biography, will ghostwrite the first three of those books. Writes The Guardian‘s Tim Adams: “It seems to me that such books are rather a last resort of wish fulfilment. We invest so much of our culture in sport and celebrity that it feels necessary that the principal players have something to say for themselves. The soundbites you hear on Sky Sports News, or the quotes that are reheated in Heat will never be enough. The frustration of celebrities is they are in a world we desire but are unable to articulate how we imagine it feels. That’s why the ghost – who exists in a hinterland between reality and surreality – is so engaging. He or she provides a voice that is halfway between his or her mundane life – and therefore ours – and that of the subject.”

Elsewhere, Maisonneuve has also recently posted a survey of ghostwriting through history on its site (like the Guardian piece, it spotlights Jennie Erdal’s memoir Ghosting, about her years writing speeches and articles for a prominent British businessman). But Maisonneuve writer Terence Byrnes recaps a Canadian case: that of Nega Mezlekia, who was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 2000 for his memoir Notes from the Hyena’s Belly, only to become embroiled in a dispute with Anne Stone over her own contribution to the book (she considered herself a co-author, he considered her an editor). Writes Byrnes: “Throughout this tempest, commentators, critics and authors alike put the word ‘author’ in scare quotes, nervously acknowledging their own anxieties about authorship, identity and ownership. Everyone stood to lose: those who believed in the politics of identity, those who claimed the glory of artistic production and those who made money from it.”

Related links:
Click here for the Guardian story on ghostwriting
Click here for the Mainsonneuve story on ghostwriting