Grappling Over Ghostwriters; Greg Smith Wants a Book Deal

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Today in books and publishing: Former Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith is shopping a book proposal, more fallout about the role of the ghostwriter, and Chuck Palahniuk experienced a scary car accident.

Greg Smith, the former Goldman Sachs executive who used the Opinion Page of The New York Times to announce his resignation in spectacularly public fashion, is reportedly shopping a book proposal about his time at the firm.  Per "several people with knowledge of the conversations," Smith held meetings with publishers last week, pitching the book as "a coming-of-age story, the tale of someone who came into the business with good intentions and sky-high ideals that were ultimately pierced by Goldman’s obsessive focus on making money." Publishers who attended those meetings seem split on the project's viabilities. According to The New York Times, some publishers think the book could be another Liar's Poker, while others are wary of the "legal issues that could be involved with a former employee’s writing a damning book about a large, deep-pocketed company." Other concerns voiced by publishers include whether a book focused on the derivatives market  could be accesible to a wide audience, the ability of a mid-level employee to write a persuasive indictment of Goldman's corporate culture, and whether anyone will still remember Greg Smith six months from now. Said one unenthusiastic publishing executive: "It's a story that had its moment,"   [The New York Times]

Gwyneth Paltrow did not like it one bit when she was singled out in the New York Times for using a ghostwriter on her cookbook My Father's Daughter. Paltrow denied the suggestion that she had help writing the memoir, noting on Twitter that she "wrote every word" herself. But this where things get tricky, explains Sari Botton, a ghostwriter who thinks of herself more as a "memoir midwife." Botton explains: "[E]ven if [Paltrow] did write every single word that made it into the book, it doesn’t mean she didn’t have the help of a ghostwriter or co-author whatever you want to call us." Even when a famous client is writing down large chunks of their book, Botton notes she's the one who still has to shape those passages into something "readable and interesting." A ghostwriter may not write every word, but they are still hovering, contributing to and massaging the text. [The Rumpus]

Recommended Reading

There's an instinct to treasure small-ish literary magazines, but in the era of Twitter, Tumblr, and the blogosphere, there's a question that's worth considering: what are literary journals in the age of instant publishing? The Internet has guaranteed that no poem, story, or essay need ever go homeless. Paris Review editor Lorin Stein considers the question, and supplies an answer that's reasonable, and more nuanced than simply a knee-jerk yes: “There was a time when the main job of a little magazine was to put stuff out there that we wouldn’t have found otherwise,” admits Stein. “Now that is not at all the job anymore. Now, it’s recreating the experience of walking into a good bookstore or a good music shop or talking to someone whose tastes interest you. Without that, there’s no point in having a little magazine anymore.”[Johns Hopkins Magazine]

Penguin will release The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection in the United Kingdom today. The book, written by Cambridge art historian Thomas de Wesselow, takes the position that the Shroud of Turin is authentic, and Penguin is trying like the dickens to position the book as an object of controversy. The publisher is touting the fact that"Harry Potter-style security measures" were utilized to enforce prerelease embargos, and The Bookseller reports only staffers at Penguin were informed that the publisher had acquired the project. Dutton will release the book in the U.S. on April 2. No word on how they have or have not tried to keep the book's existence secret, though today's release kind of makes that a moot point. [The Bookseller]

On the close calls front, Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk is fine after a semi-truck overturned while rounding a curb near his Washougal, Wash., home on Friday morning and crashed into the author's stationary car. At the time, Palahniuk was parked in his driveway in his Prius, getting ready to make a right turn out on the highway. Palahniuk "reported a sore neck," but didn't go to the hospital. The driver of the semi was uninjured and was later cited for speeding.  [The Oregonian]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.