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Ghosting: A Double Life


Ghosting: A Double Life

Every writer must wonder what it would be like to "ghostwrite" a
book. Jennie Erdal shows us how to do it --- how to write reviews,
articles, letters, essays, and novels using another's byline. A
glutton for punishment, and in need of a paycheck, she agrees to
write the memoirs of her employer, an English publisher she calls
"Tiger." GHOSTING is a finale to the years she spent writing for
and about him. She proves her prowess as a gifted writer, and one
to expect more of in the future.

Erdal's first meeting with Tiger is a vivid description of a
gentleman outfitted with elaborate taste in dress as well as
language. She's a writer with credit for the translation from
Russian of Boris Pasternak's memoirs. Tiger's purpose in Oxford
that day is to purchase a painting from Pasternak's estate, one
that depicts scenes from his own childhood. But Josephine Pasternak
has stated that none will be sold. Tiger, with the exuberance of a
gifted womanizer, replies, "She'll sell to me." And she did.

Erdal's home is in Scotland, but her job as ghostwriter takes her
to London, Frankfurt and the Dordogne landscape, in France. Much of
Tiger's dialogue, or monologue when directing his vast traveling
entourage, is italicized in French. At times, the reader may be
glad to have a faint knowledge of written French phrases. However,
body language and place description are sufficient to orient one to
its purposes. These, Erdal pens with ease. Her use of simile and
metaphor is an excellent rainbow in the often tumultuous rainstorm
of descriptive verbiage. She loves language and is not afraid to
demonstrate that fact with colorful detail.

Tiger's demands are heavy. He is surrounded by a bevy of young
women he employs for his tiniest whims. His eccentricities and
phobias are numerous. The author is kind, however, and offers his
truly genuine benevolence on the opposite side of the palate. Tiger
seeks acclaim in his field as an author in addition to his
publishing success. Eventually, he coerces Erdal to write a novel,
with his name as author. His propensity for sexual clarity is a
roadblock in the authorship process. Erdal's greatest difficulty
with the book is to write the sex scenes in the manner he demands.
In its final draft, the book is received with mixed, but generally
favorable, acclaim.

When she is asked for a second novel, Erdal takes stock of her
place in Tiger's stable and of her own changed lifestyle, newly
remarried. Her second husband is never named but duly noted as a
player. Likewise, the publisher is simply "Tiger." Funding of his
extravagant lifestyle eventually takes its toll on the eccentric
man. Funds are dwindling and tempers are short. His ghostwriter
finds herself at opposite viewpoints with her employer and sees
that they "began to move against one another. The finely balanced
symbiosis was under siege."

When Erdal announced her retirement, the publishing empire came to
an end. Tiger's long reign as mogul finished with the final close
of the House door. The ghostwriter tells her story, along with his,
because they are eternally linked in purpose. More from a finely
tuned pen is sure to be anticipated after GHOSTING.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 22, 2011

Ghosting: A Double Life
by Jennie Erdal

  • Publication Date: April 12, 2005
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 0385514263
  • ISBN-13: 9780385514262