Do you remember those days when memoirs and autobiographies were written by some grand dame or old artist at the end of a long, active, adventurous life? Do you remember Casanova’s monumental Histoire de ma vie, or Cellini’s Vita scritta da lui medesimo?
Well, that time is no more. I am not sure whether this is a reflection of our ageophobic society, but if you go into any bookshop or supermarket you’ll be submerged – as I am sure you have noticed – by a mass of ephemeral celebrity autobiographies. What is depressing about this is not only the poor quality of the writing, which is sometimes due to the fact that they are really written by the celebrities in question, but also the young age of some of the people involved.
Take David Beckham for example: he’s only thirty-four and he’s got already four or five autobiographies under his belt, the first one written over ten years ago. Obviously a lot must be happening in his life outside the pitch. Lewis Hamilton wrote his autobiography, My Story, when he was twenty-two. Four fifths of it, I imagine, must be devoted to him whizzing around a circuit on a racing car. When Andy Murray’s Hitting Back autobiography came out in June last year – in time for Wimbledon of course – he had just celebrated his twenty-first birthday. Good old Andy has a new autobiography coming out in November this year, ominously titled Coming of Age. Let’s hope he doesn’t flop again.
But this is nothing. You must have come across Miley Cyrus’s 272-page Miles to Go (at least some irony in the title!), which was published in March this year, well before the young singer’s sixteenth birthday. And what about Transworld’s recent publishing coup? They bought – for big money, no doubt – world English rights in the life story of Rubina Ali, the young star of Slumdog Millionaire, inventively titled Slumgirl Dreaming. Her age? She’s nine. I am sure she’ll have a lot to tell the world.
But I think publishers are missing a trick here. They should try and secure the rights in the life story of unborn celebrity babies. As soon as these babies are able to write, or talk – or even before birth, if they can detect their brainwaves with one of these new mind-reading machines – they could fill a 300-page autobiography detailing what goes on in the belly of a celebrity mum. Just a thought. I am sure there’s a big market out there for this sort of thing.