Wednesday 28 September 2011

Autobiographies: the ultimate headstone inscriptions

What would you like to see written on your gravestone? Usually when people ask that question they expect you to come up with a pithy one-liner, summing up the whole sorry business of life and death in a few choice words. But actually, if you have a bit of an ego, you’d probably prefer to see the crowds pouring into the graveyard to read the whole story. Why else do so many people want to write autobiographies if it isn’t to benefit from a little wipe with the brush of immortality?

Whether its a self-published tome for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to pore over or a mighty scholarly work for the general public, being remembered by future generations, (and validated by the current ones), is what you hire the ghostwriters for.

For Maggie de Beer it was the ultimate prize in her quest to become an icon, to have written and printed evidence that she was a glamorous, interesting person, someone of note, even if it meant having her many shortcomings exposed to anyone with the price of a paperback or a download.

“What’s the point in being coy about it?” she would say, “Steffi’s told the whole world what a terrible person I am already anyway.”

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