Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bristol Palin: What's Wrong With America

No, I'm not slamming the Palins, Bristol or that other one, for their politics. Though the sham politics of Sarah Palin, which chiefly serves to make her millions, is not my cup of tea.  No, I'm talking about Bristol Palin's memoirs.

What is she, like 21, 22?  How can she possibly have memoirs? She's hardly had a life. Evidently the book's full of earth-shattering stuff like high-school dramas and trailer-park soap opera moments like how she agreed to get back together with Levi Johnston if he promised to get a job, get a GED and "stop calling her 'bitch.'"

What a catch.

Anyway, one looks at the state of the literary establishment here in the 21st century with a shudder.  Ah, you object, it's always been like this.  America's always been a sucker for the latest huckster to come along, you say, recalling P.T. Barnum's dictum that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

But I seem to recall something else.  Reading about the Algonquin Roundtable.  How Hemingway's editor at Scribner's, Maxwell Perkins, collaborated closely with him, literary excellence taking precedence over sales.  Even as I was reading all these things, in the '60s and '70s, the glow of an earlier era was already fading with the continual march towards corporatization of book publishing until today we have the oligopoly of the Big Six.  But remnants of a serious commitment to literature were still there to be found.

Now, the "memoirs" of a woman who may not be old enough to buy a beer.

Says something about our culture. I don't know what, precisely, but something not so good.


  1. Well said Travener.
    There was a time when books were important. There's always been some ridiculous stuff put out, but now we live in an age of the Platform. The book isn't important. The Platform is important as in do you have some kind of audience ready made for the book. It's why Bristol gets a memoir deal, Snookie gets a novel published. The calculation is there's a market. The marketing departments of publishers are in control. The tail is wagging the dog.
    No worries here about slamming the Palins. They're opportunists without brains, talent or conscience.

  2. Seeing as how I lack an understanding of publishing's large-scale business model (I'm assuming there is one): in my less cynical moments, I like to think that crap like Bristol's memoir or Snooki's novel helps subsidize the industry so they have more money to spend on folks on you and me. In my more cynical moments, I curse and throw things. And regardless of my level of cynicism, I agree it does say something - something not so good - about our culture.

  3. Bristol Palin is everything that's wrong with America. I was so pissed she got to the top 3 in Dancing with the Stars. Even more pissed than the fact people consider her a "star."