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Amanda Knox Pt. II: Dollar Votes

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Amanda Knox Pt. II: Dollar Votes

Sticking with our ongoing theme, the balance of artistic integrity/vision vs. the publishing industry's need to turn a profit by eating little pieces of a man's dreams (at least I think that's been the theme), I thought this was rather apropos.

Amanda Knox hires DC lawyer as literary agent

SEATTLE (AP) — Amanda Knox says she's hired a Washington, D.C., lawyer to help her land a book deal after an Italian court cleared her and her ex-boyfriend in the killing of her British roommate.
Knox family spokesman Dave Marriott says Robert Barnett will represent Knox in discussions with publishers and help her evaluate other opportunities.
Barnett has represented the literary interests of U.S. Presidents Barack ObamaBill Clinton andGeorge W. Bush, as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Knox returned to her hometown of Seattle in October after she was cleared in Meredith Kercher's death.
The 24-year-old had been in custody since 2007, and experts have suggested she could score a seven-figure book deal. She hasn't granted any interviews since her release.

Normally (i.e., had this been a former classmate) I'd be stewing and seething with rage.  But you know how I feel about Amanda (  Who could be mad at that face?

                                                                               I do!  I do!
Still, it's a little disconcerting when you see publishers rushing to fall over one another to hand out seven figures to someone who has no skills in book-writing to, um, write a book.  I suppose Amanda could be a terrific writer.  I can't say one way or the other, since I've never read her work.  Maybe she has an innate storytelling ability, knows all the tricks, won't mistakenly write "all intensive purposes" or "baited breath," or get overly bogged down in the symbolism of a rainy parking lot at a Costco on Rosh Hashanah.  Perhaps Amanda is an avid reader, who slept on writing books in her jail cell and absorbed knowledge like Edgar Cayce; the former star of her undergraduate writing class, who'd been bursting to start a novel until that whole unfortunate murder charge and subsequent incarceration, a James Joyce wrapped in perfect bone structure with pristine eye sight.  Then again, who really gives a shit?  Because this is another dirty little secret about the writing profession: it actually has very little to do with writing.

There's a running joke re: poetry readings, how the only people who go to them are other poets.  The same is true in a lot of regards when it comes to the writing community, which is fairly incestuous.  If you were to look on my Facebook page (and if we're not friends, just ask.  Please please ask), you'd see a good chunk of my friends are strangers, men and women who, like I, consider themselves writers, and if you delved a little deeper, you'd see we share many of the same friends and likes and all that, even though I've never met any of these people and only know them through cyberspace.  And this goes all the way to the top, ending with the Russell Bankses and Elmore Leonards, the lords of the writing world.  On the local level, I routinely encounter the same handful of names reading at readings or publishing noir stories in the magazines I'm in. And in this capacity, no matter the playing field, literary or noir, print or online, there is some weight put on the actual writing.  Because writing writers.  But that place isn't the real world, is it?

It may sound like I am complaining that it shouldn't be that way.  I'm not.  I mean, of course it shouldn't be that way.  Just like kids shouldn't be going to bed hungry tonight and all that.  If you're going to get hung up on life not being fair, there are several encampments being set up in public parks all across America that I'm sure would love to have you (just beware the drum circles). There are far worse injustices than a few white guys not getting paid to write a book.  It'd be nice, sure.  But I also didn't have to sit for four years in a dank Italian jail cell, accused of things I may or may have done.  And if anybody deserves a lucrative book deal, it's my sweet Amanda, especially after her split from Harry Potter, which I heard she took pretty hard. 

                                (Damn you, boy wizard, for hurting her.)

Honestly, aside from noting how cute she is, I don't know jackshit about Amanda Knox or her case.  Would I date her if given the chance (like in a parallel universe, where I wasn't old, broken down, and married)?  Of course. I'd date a fucking robot if it was good looking enough.  Do I think she is guilty? Am I going to keep talking in questions?  I can't say.

The part that interests me here, besides having an excuse to plaster Amanda's adorable face all over my blog like a tweenie crushing on the Biebs, is the light a book deal for Amanda shines on this fruitless profession upon which I've embarked.  

I guess it's not different than record contracts being handed out to singers who can't sing. Which they do all the time.  And it's no big deal because you've got Auto-Tune, just like Amanda will have someone to help her write her book.  So what's it really matter?  Writers don't write their books all the time.  Just ask James Patterson.  It's all about name recognition (i.e., marketing ability and sales).  Amanda gets to say she's a writer.  And this girl gets to say she's a singer.

I suppose what irks me in the end is how naive I was signing up for this.  Forget my own personal interest, I've encountered myriad writers, with loads of talent, who are never getting their book published, and even my friends who have--and some of these are fantastic, change-your-life works--they are never coming close to seven figures.  They ain't coming close to six figures.  Fuck, if they touched five, they'd be doing cartwheels.  There simply isn't, nor should there be, some giant conglomerate handing out a shit-ton of money just because someone writes a really good book.  Like it or not, our system is predicated on supply and demand, and if Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling can retire now, terrific, good for them.  But that's not the goal of this game.  At least not for me. I don't care about the money.  Although I'd sure take the fame and adoration. I guess it comes down to a value system.

Will I read Amanda's book?  Doubt it.  But will I read short snippets about her life on Yahoo News and Google her picture from time to time?  Certainly.  Is my interest in Amanda Knox more than just slightly creepy?  You bet.  But at least I'm not rewarding Harper Collins or whomever publishes this thing with my cold hard cash.  (And somewhere, the editor of a large publishing house weeps silently.)  

It's all you can do really, vote with your dollar.  A long time ago, someone tried to explain the BCS to me.  I was a little kid, trying to understand who "won" in college football.  When they were finished explaining to me how the BCS worked, I said fuck that shit.  I am huge football fan, but I am not wasting a season watching a sport that has no real winner; that system sounded fucked up to me when I was 12, and I haven't watched a college game since.  I don't have control over the BCS.  But I sure as shit can decide where I'm spending my time and money.  It's called dollar votes.

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At December 6, 2011 at 7:57 PM , Blogger John Riddle said...

I've enjoyed both your blog posts re Amanda. Found your blog by chance, by doing some various google searches on her. Good material, I'll have to check out some of your other blog entries. Thanks

At December 6, 2011 at 9:36 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Thanks, John. Glad you liked them. Stop by whenever. I'll be here, complaining about shit and fawning over pretty girls... I appreciate the kind words (every time I see a comment from someone I don't know I'm dreading getting insulted. So it's always nice when it's a compliment).


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