I must admit that I’d be the first person here to IM my colleagues with “Reeeeeally?” followed by the latest celeb memoir listing from Pub Marketplace. In general, the trend irks me, not because it’s taking the room of other, better books, but because I simply don’t understand why there’s a market for any random has-beens to get paid to talk about their mostly mundane lives. Comedians and other performers known for their ability to string words together are fine with me, and occasionally someone’s life is spectacularly weird, but once upon a time sitcom actresses with the same story as every other memoir on the shelf just boggle my mind. And yet people care. They care in droves. It’s a market I simply cannot comprehend.
Until now, that is. I’m beginning to suspect my confusion is a product of age. Celeb memoirs have, until recently, by and large been written by people who barely register as famous to me and many of my contemporaries. (Which is probably for the best, since you should live at least a reasonable share of a life before writing about it.) Before Valerie Bertinelli became a bestselling author, I knew only that she’d been on a sitcom that happened not to be in my steady childhood diet of crappy TV and that she’d been a spokesperson for a weight loss company. Naturally, I couldn’t have been bothered to read her memoir on the grounds that she’s famous. And those people who were truly famous to me who happened to have book deals—Tori Spelling, for example—didn’t come along so often that the odds were in favor of my actually caring they existed.
But this changes everything. Sam Seaborn AND Punky Brewster publishing memoirs in the same year! This is the greatest celebrity memoir news of all time. I was genuinely disappointed when Rob Lowe canceled his first book deal. 13-year-old Lauren was a devoted fan of many an 80s movie, but St. Elmo’s Fire was by far at the top of the list. Not to mention that The West Wing is the best TV show of all time, and anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken. Punky Brewster was my childhood hero (and Halloween costume at least twice). For probably the first time, the authors of celebrity memoirs actually star in my DVD collection.
I’m still not sure I’m going to read their memoirs, I must admit. I suspect I know the more interesting parts of both their back stories, and much as I get the impression both are at least reasonably intelligent, I’m not really that eager to hear their lives in their own words. (If Rob Lowe’s book features a photo insert, I’ll at least browse it at the bookstore, however, because he’s awfully pretty, even in St. Elmo’s Fire, where he looks kind of ridiculous.)
Whose celeb memoir would I actually read? Well, I got Colin Ferguson’s as a gift for Christmas, and it’s on my to-read pile, because that man is a genius. I plan, eventually, to get around to Kathy Griffin’s. And I’ve been meaning to pick up Stephen Fry’s. Aaron Sorkin’s, which must come to pass eventually, definitely. But it’s harder for those who are famous for something other than their ability to express their thoughts. Maybe if Johnny Depp wrote one, because he seems like an interesting and intelligent guy.
What about you guys? Read any celebrity memoirs that are genuinely more interesting than a cursory glance at the author’s Wikipedia page? (Seriously, click that–he should write a second memoir, covering the later, wackier years.) And who hasn’t written one who really should?