The Quick 10: Pam Anderson: Literary Genius (and Nine Other Celeb Authors)
It seems like once you're a celebrity, you can pursue any venture you want to whether you have the talent for it or not (Lauren Conrad, anyone?). But there are a few stars out there who really are multi-talented. There are a few of those on this list... and a few of the former.
1. Hugh Laurie. Unlike some others on this list, Hugh Laurie: a) actually wrote the novel without the use of a ghostwriter, and b) gets rave reviews from critics and readers alike. Some have described his 1996 book The Gun Seller as “Wodehouseian.” Wodehouse + Laurie? What’s not to like? Furthermore, Laurie was so wary of being viewed as one of those dreaded celebrity authors that he submitted the story under a pseudonym and didn’t reveal himself as the author until after it was accepted for publication. I’m adding this one to my Christmas list ASAP.
2. Brooks & Dunn. These country superstars sing and write as a duo. Actually, they write as a trio – the byline addition “with Bill Fitzhugh” is a good indicator that they had a fair amount of help. The Adventures of Slim & Howdy is about their alter-egos traveling across the country in pursuit of musical fame and fortune.
3. Macaulay Culkin. No ghostwriter here. Culkin’s 2006 book Junior is a “fictional” memoir about a child actor with daddy issues. “Hmm,” says Salon, noting that it reads more like free-association therapy than a book. Hmm indeed.
4. Marlon Brando. Brilliant actor? Definitely. Brilliant author? Not so much. To be fair, both Brando and Donald Cammell, the author who wrote most of the book, didn’t exactly intend for the book to be published the way it was. The pair had collaborated back in the early ’80s but dropped it before it ever got to an agent. Cammell died in 1996; Brando in 2004. And that’s when Cammell’s widow decided to sell the manuscript. Check out the awful reviews of this pirate tale for yourself.
5. Steve Martin. Shopgirl, in my opinion, was a lovely little novella that was really written by Steve Martin himself. It’s not a rollicking satire like you might expect from such a comedic genius, and it’s nothing like the humorous essays and short stories that preceded it. In the adult fiction realm, Martin has also written The Pleasure of My Company and An Object of Beauty (which is actually not out until next week).
6. Jimmy Buffett. Slowly, Jimmy Buffett is conquering the world. He’s got the tours, the radio station, the merchandise, the restaurant, the close relationship with Warren Buffett, the sports stadium… what else can a guy do? Write novels, apparently. He’s landed on the New York Times Best Seller list three times, two of them for fiction writing: Tales From Margaritaville and Where is Joe Merchant? He’s one of just eight authors in history to hit #1 on both the fiction and non-fiction lists.
7. Ethan Hawke. The Reality Bites star has two books under his belt – 1996’s The Hottest State and 2002’s Ash Wednesday.
8. Pamela Anderson. This will come as no surprise to you, but Pam co-wrote Star and Starstruck with another writer, Eric Shaw Quinn. The stories are loosely based around her own experiences. OK, so she's not a literary genius - the Star books are certainly no Jane Austen. But the reviews say they’re great for beach reads, and Pam doesn’t really care if you think she's brilliant or not: “I wrote the book for fun, not for critical acclaim. I never imagined Star would become a NY Times bestseller – though I certainly can’t take all the credit for that. I never expected to be hailed as an incredible writer; I just wanted to share some stories.”
9. Blair Underwood. In recent years, he’s been co-authoring a series of books about Tennyson Hardwicke, which sounds like Harlequin but is really more… OK, it’s a little Harlequin-y.
10. Paulina Porizkova. Adding to the list of celebs who write works of fiction strikingly similar to their own lives, the supermodel and muse wrote a book called Model Summer in which a 15-year-old girl goes to Paris to model during the summer of 1980. Porizkova was also discovered and given a ticket to Paris during the summer of 1980. Go figure. But hey, write about what you know, right?
Have you read a celebrity-penned book that was actually pretty good? I really enjoyed Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not by Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello.