Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Can't Believe I'm Posting a Photo of Heath Ledger

A hot tip from an LROD reader revealed this craziness. It appears that Esquire Magazine hired "associate editor of Golf Magazine and aspiring fiction writer," Lisa Taddeo, to write a story of "reported fiction" entitled "The Last Days of Health Ledger." I think Esquire has just taken our celebrity-stalking culture and reality-TV-fiction obsession to a whole new level. I wonder if the Ledger thing was Taddeo's idea or some editor at Esquire. Maybe she'll write in and tell us how it all came down.

Here's how the whole project is described:

"To write a conceivable chronicle of Heath Ledger's final days, writer Lisa Taddeo visited the actor's neighborhood, talked to the store owners and bartenders who may have seen him during his last week, and read as many accounts and rumors about the events surrounding his death as possible. She filled in the rest with her imagination. The result is what we call reported fiction. Some of the elements are true. (Ledger was in London. He was a regular at the Beatrice Inn and the Mirö Cafe. And he was infatuated with Nick Drake). Others are not."

Also here's another story by Taddeo. And another. What do you think of her writing?

16 comments:

Gloria, Writer Reading said...

"Reported fiction." I thought "Creative Nonfiction" was bad enough. So, what is this, the step between Creative Nonfiction and Fiction? I can't even bring myself to read it. I'm just shaking my head over "Reported Fiction." That is an absolutely meaningless category. She's reporting on her own fiction? Isn't it really "fictional reporting" as in "pretending to report"? Like, dressing up like a reporter and play-acting? I like it better when reality and fiction are distinct.

Anonymous said...

I think it's all quite painful. I wonder if this writer should try staying away from the first person narrative for a while. The Esquire piece is an ill-conceived idea and the result is horrendous.

rmellis said...

Okay, I officially take back anything positive I might have said about the current state of short fiction.

Think I'll go lie on the floor for a while.

C. Leigh Purtill said...

This would be an interesting writing exercise if you were doing it solely for yourself and trying to get inside the head of a character but it's totally off-putting as an article intended for other readers.

The Quoibler said...

That was just... weird.

I don't even know what to say about it. I felt embarrassed, like the writer was trying too hard to be innovative. Very awkward. I think I'll go take a bath now...

Quoibs

peterc said...

So Ms Taddeo stopped mining her own tiny excuse of a life to churn out her overwritten first-person garbage (thanks for the links, W,R) and stoops to this? The exploitative nature of the crap is offensive enough, but would Heath Ledger really think in New York wankerese? Of the many problems with this dismal attempt at writing, didn't this occur to someone?

Celebrity culture has its head so far up its own arse it can watch itself cleaning its teeth. A shame that so much publishing seems to be stuck there as well.

Anonymous said...

This is disgusting.

It's even more disgusting when you realize that it's not going to stop at this. I can't blame Taddeo. She didn't come up with the idea - David Granger did. If he called me with the same offer, I can't say I'd have told him to screw off. Would you?

Even if you and I would, plenty of other writers will gladly contract such "fiction" when David Granger calls with his latest bad idea.

You have to feel sorry for Taddeo. I give her credit from trying to make the best of this. But what kind of stories would she rather be writing? What is she all about as a writer? What's her voice in fiction? We don't know. Well, we get an idea from the links you gave WR, but not from this Heath Ledger assignment.

That's all it is, an assignment. Fiction assignments. I can't believe how horrible magazine publishing has become, that I'm all up in arms about Esquire's fiction "assignments." But where else to sell fiction that people will see and read?

The mandate from David is that fiction in Esquire has to have the same stupid voice as everything else in the magazine. (He even has written guidelines to this effect. If you want a copy WR, I can send.)

Everything they accept, fiction-wise, has and will have the same tone and voice as "The Last Days of Heath Ledger."

Again, I think it bears repeating. Repeat after me, folks: "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"

Take a glance over at that Heath Ledger thing, read the first few paragraphs. And then say it again, say it loud: "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"

"The Snows of Kilimanjaro" debuted in Esquire. Could be one of the greatest short stories ever written in the English language. Arnold Gingrich knew it and bought it. But David Granger would never buy something like that because today's Esquire is all about consistent voice and image ... so a story like "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" has no home in Esquire now - he wants more like "The Sex-Shows of Carla Gugino." And with a query for a 10,000 word "imagined fiction" piece on a topic like that, you'll get a phone call from Granger by noon!

Don't that make you mad as hell?

virginia said...

My husband calls this dying (dead?) genre "barber shop fiction": the magazines you would see in the barber shop while awaiting your turn. Esquire was always the top of the heap. Having a story in such a magazine meant that you were a rising star in fiction. I know it's been a long time since I've seen a story in the women's magazines. Cosmo and Redbook used to carry fiction, not too long ago it seems. Ladies Home Journal was another fiction mainstay, at least for my mother's generation. We had what, Sassy? No fiction there. But just a few years before that, the Blank Generation writers got their stories plastered in every glossy magazine on the rack. I remember Donna Tartt in GQ, and flipping through Rolling Stone for something new by Jay McInerney. Come to think of it, we didn't have anything like that for our generation. We never really got a "brat pack" of our own. Did Generation X just lose interest in reading?

Anonymous said...

You complainers and blog wannabes ought to go to hell. Fiction is doing fine. You just don't have the talent it takes so stop crying and move on already.

Adaora A. said...

Am completely astonished.

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