Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Judging and Celebrity Authors

Right now there are two blog entries from Guardian Unlimited that piqued my interest.

The first is from Segun Afolabi and he talks about being a book judge:
You can get around the traditional ruse of placing the best stories at the front by fast-forwarding to the middle or end section, or starting anywhere you wish, discovering whether the collection works as a whole or falters after one or two vignettes. A brilliant individual story or couple of stories does not a collection make and more often than I would have liked, collections that showed early promise ran out of puff way before the halfway stage. In the end the judges - Nuala NĂ­ ChonchĂșir, Rick Moody and I (as well as Patrick Cotter when selecting the winner) - picked books that contained consistently well-written stories, ladled with variety, spark and originality.
The second is from Hadley Freeman and she makes an observation on the phenomenon of celebrity authors:
Although these novels may answer some questions, one they do not resolve is that of authorship. It is generally assumed that celebrity autobiographies are written with assistance, but when it comes to the novels, the line that they are self-penned is, almost without exception, strictly maintained. Having someone write a novel for you smacks of getting someone to do your English GCSE coursework, a plot device that has sadly yet to feature in any of these novels. But then, inhaling ketamine (as showcased in Richie's novel) or winning a reality TV show (Price) probably do offer superior literary fodder.

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