Monday, October 30, 2006

Whose Life Is It, Anyway?

The extremely large and eminently respectable publishers, Harper Collins, have just released a new book. “Pete, My Story,” is the alleged autobiography of Pete Bennet, the winner of a television Big Brother contest in the UK. Being in the happy position of not getting British television where I live, I am shielded from viewing this sort of thing, so I am unable to comment on his success. The French have equally abysmal programmes, but here viewing is not compulsory.

The publisher’s revolting blurb contains the following:

“W**kers! Cheese! Eeezamanna! Pete Bennett, the 24-year-old Tourette's sufferer who shot to fame as winner of Big Brother 7, stole the nation's heart with his outrageous, loveable nature. Pete's incredible autobiography reveals what the tabloids didn't see. His story will make you cry, have you in stitches, and inspire you with its amazing honesty………… In his own unique style, Pete tells us what he really thought about life in the BB house, how it felt to be a secret heartthrob and confidante to all the girls who vied for his affections, including Aisleyne, Lea, Lisa. Find out what has happened since Pete left the house, from his romance with Nikki, Queen of Tantrums, to his huge new record deal with his band, Daddy Fantastic. Heart-rending and moving, hilarious and outrageous, Pete's story is an unique insight into a truly inspiring individual.”

Terrific stuff, the only problem being that, not only did he not write the book, making it, so to speak, a non-autobiography, but it seems that he has, so far, not read it either. Amazing honesty! Interviewed by The Guardian newspaper, he said:

"This posh geezer came over and asked a load of questions. WANK! And I had to answer them." How long did it take? "A whole week! WANK! Yeah. WANK! I'm tired, man." That's the lovely thing about Pete - he tells it as it is. Is it weird being an author? "I'm not really, it was some geezer with a Dictaphone. Ehehehehe! WANK!"

Now I have no problem with Pete, I hope he makes a fortune from his memoirs, and that they sell better than David Blunkett’s, but I do have a problem when publishers foist this stuff off as being the subject’s own work. It seems to me to be a totally unnecessary charade as well as being specious and does the supposed author no favours. There was no reason, other than hoping to deceive the public, why the book could not have been entitled, “Pete, His Story.” Or, if it was preferred to keep it in the first person, as would be customary for a real autobiography, it could not have been “as told to” whoever the ghost writer was. And I doubt that the writer was culpable either. We tend to do rather as we are told in this business. It’s what we get paid for.

But I find it unsettling that, dealing with a young man who has clearly a good many problems to cope with in life, it was not thought necessary to sit down with him and review the book in detail prior to publication. Perhaps he was offered the opportunity, for at one point his publicist (!) butts in, saying, “You know, Pete, you really should have read the book.”

The Guardian interview reveals that he disputes some of the facts concerning his personal life that appear in the book (he seems to have read or been made aware of some of it). These were, presumably, tarted up to attract readers who revel in the more salacious details of a person’s life. Including stuff that the tabloids "didn't see" must have really been a challenge.

The one overriding factor, as far as I am concerned, when helping to write an autobiography, is that the subject should approve of every item. It is, after all, their book, not the ghost writer’s nor the publisher’s.

Too often, recently, we have seen that many of these books of memoirs have been discredited as being either incorrect or, in some cases, downright untruthful, bordering on fiction.

The other thing I find a little disturbing is that the writer completed the interviews in a week. Gosh, golly, I find most interviewees (and myself!) are knackered after a couple of hours. And it takes me at least a couple of months to get it up together. Perhaps it’s just that I’m a slow worker. Also, it seems only five minutes ago (in publishing time) that he won the contest. I really must work faster if I’m to compete, I suppose.

The sad conclusion I draw from this is that, far from being a genuine autobiography, it is a money making stunt cooked up by a publicist and a publisher. I guess I’m shooting myself in the foot here as far as getting anything published by Harper Collins in the future, but I can always use a “nom de plume” or, in this case, a “nom de guerre” perhaps.

It might be uncharitable, but I wonder if anyone even asked him if he wanted to write a book. It seems he can’t even recall the “posh geezer’s” name.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 diabetes symptom type

7:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attractive part of content. I simply stumbled upon your website and in
accession capital to claim that I get actually enjoyed account your weblog posts.

Any way I will be subscribing in your augment and even I fulfillment you get entry to constantly rapidly.

Here is my web-site Michael Kors Outlet ()

10:02 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home