Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If the Book's About the Writer, It Can Be BS, Right?

An old friend of mine once owned a book store in downtown Roanoke and I once asked him in magnified surprised, "Why in the hell are you selling Ann Coulter's book, man!?!"

"It keeps me in business," replied with an embarrassed smile.

Ah, the reality of the marketplace. My pal was a liberal making money off a nutjob (I like conservatives too much to call Coulter a conservative). Now that's capitalism a Republican can understand.

This morning Stanley Fish, the old professor at the New York Times, has a piece on Sarah Palin's new book and he concludes that, based on what the book is (an autobiography, not a biography) and how it's done, he thinks it is a worthy effort. He says, however, "Do I believe any of this? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that she does, and that her readers feel they are hearing an authentic voice."

So, bullshit is fine as long as it is authentic? I guess so. It's the basis of my own memoir, Burning the Furniture*, so I'll have to agree with Stanley that the point of a book about yourself is that it is your perspective and it is told your way. As I've said to family members and friends for the last couple of years, "If you want the story told your way, write your own damn book. This one's mine."

(*If you're wondering why I run a cover shot of my book and not Sarah Palin's, it's because I want to sell my book, not hers and my guess is that you already have made your decision on her book.)


  1. Did I ever tell you how much you remind me of Mike Ives, Cap'n?

  2. Eldon: I hope to god that is not a statement on my sartorial efficacy, since Mike Ives is the second-worst dresser (in a profession known for slobs) I've ever seen. Great writer, but a guy who looks like he lives under a bridge.