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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The demise of the autobiography

Biographies and autobiographies have always been a great pleasure of mine. I love the witty anecdotes, the turn of phrase, the remembrances of less hectic times and the odd bit of salatious detail about a celebrity.

Lately however, the whole genre has fallen into a steep decline.

Any two-bit celebrity feels obliged to rush into print. Consider for a moment the Top 10 bestsellers. Two of those are books by the minor celebrities who make up the TV show "Loose Women". Against my better judgment I downloaded Carol McGiffin's book "Oh Carol!" because I find her amusing and like her robust views. She admits in the book that she was urged to write a book by the publisher of Denise Welch (actress, fellow Loose Women pannellist.) The McGiffin book is very badly written and the chapters which I think are supposed to be amusing simply aren't. The chapter on life with Chris Evans is the only part of the book that seems to have been given considered thought.

Oh Carol! indeed.

I won't even mention all the books by WAGs, Z list celebrities and footballers all under the age of 30. What can they tell us about life? Much of what Katie Price actually does in life is manufactured purely so she can update her turgid autobiographies and her ITV2 TV shows.

And then there are the appalling misery memoirs. What does it say about us that so many are in the book chart at any one time?

Among the books I have enjoyed the most are several by people who aren't remotely famous. "Where did it all go right? Growing up normal in the 70s" by Andrew Collins was a refreshing antidote to the misery memoir. "Misadventures" by Sylvia Smith was an eccentric hit, recounting many incidents in the life of a career secretary but none of any significance. The deadpan delivery is somewhat fascinating. I loved also the books by actress Liz Smith. She didn't become famous until she was 50 and her book "Our Betty" is a poignant account of a hard life of struggle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loving the new look blog - more please :o)