Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Katie Price - a provisional bibliography

Katie Price is a media personality, reality TV star, author, former glamour model (known as Jordan), occasional singer and businesswoman, with a personal fortune (is there such a thing as an impersonal one?) estimated at £45 million. She is also a best-selling author who later this month publishes her fortieth book - Love, Lipstick and Lies. Listed below is, I believe, the first bibliography of her work.

She has so far published four autobiographies:

Being Jordan (2004)
A Whole New World (2006)
Pushed to the Limit (2008)
You Only Live Once (2010).

There are nine novels:

Angel (2006)
Crystal (2007)
Angel Uncovered (2008)
Sapphire (2009)
Paradise (2010)
The Comeback Girl (2011)
Santa Baby (2011)
In the Name of Love (2012).


Her one non-fiction book is about fashion: Standing Out (2009)

There are two series of books for children, both apparently now complete: Perfect Ponies and Mermaids & Pirates. A complete list of these titles appears at the end of this blog.

All are the work of professional ghost writers and I suspect (without condescension) that the author herself would be hard-pressed to name all of the titles published under her name. This is not a criticism - government ministers rely on slick speech writers to render them intelligible so why shouldn't celebrities employ underlings to write their books? Works attributed to Katie Price no doubt bring pleasure to readers who are presumably aware of the publishing arrangements and approve of them. One doesn't, come to that, expect David Beckham to blend and bottle his own-brand cologne personally.

You're probably wondering why I'm blogging about a writer who isn't a writer. This is not a sneering attack on Katie Price, who I believe has overcome many personal setbacks and insecurities (not all of her own making) to become the public figure she is today. It's her status as a best-selling author that interests me because of what it says about our literary culture in general.

Since the 1980s we've seen the emergence of what can be described as a cultural free market which, like the free market itself, asserts its legitimacy through two important claims: that it's efficient (let's agree not to go there) and that it's non-judgmental. This last claim is of particular interest. A cultural free market insists that no individual or institution can make any legitimate or authoritative claim on behalf of the public as to what is in the best interests of the public. Such a patrician assumption harks back to the days of Lord Reith at the BBC and is simply not to be countenanced. Modern society is made up of countless fragmented constituencies (the argument runs) so how can anyone presume to know what is best for all?

The political right exploit this line of reasoning when it comes to the provision of public services - healthcare, libraries, state housing, arts subsidies - because, they argue, state-sponsored institutions are incapable of reflecting the wide range of needs and expectations to be found in our diverse and complex society. Take this principle, extend it to the arts and by a simple line of unreason say goodbye to critical gatekeepers, custodians of quality, anything to do with informed judgemental values. Who dare proscribe? Who has the authority?

Katie Price's publishing output is the result of a deregulated cultural market and the triumph of populism and celebrity culture. It's hard to talk about her books at all without appearing judgemental and therefore (in that wonky 'therefore' of populist reasoning) indefensibly elitist. As a writer I happen to prefer her to, say, Margaret Atwood, but that's just me.

Defenders of her children's books would claim that 'at least it gets kiddies to read', although by the same token one might argue in favour of McDonalds fast food - "at least it gets them to eat". That her Princess Pony books are cheap and nasty-looking is irrelevant. So are Faber print on demand novels. More alarmingly Katie Price is a reportedly a popular role model for many girls and young women who see her material success as an empowering validation of their own hectic lifestyle choices. That has to be a very bad thing, because there's only one Katie Price.


NOTE

Children's books attributed to Katie Price are:

Perfect Ponies (2007-2010) 
Here Comes the Bride, Little Treasures, Fancy Dress Ponies, Pony Club Weekend, The New Best Friend, Ponies to the Rescue, My Pony Care Book, Star Ponies, Pony 'n' Pooch, Pony in Disguise, Stage Fright!, Secrets and Surprises, Wild West Weekend.

Mermaids & Pirates (2008–10)
Follow the Fish, I Spy, Let's Build a Sandcastle, A Sunny Day, Telescope Overboard, Time for a Picnic, All Around, Hide and Seek, Katie the Mermaid, Katie's Day, Peter's Friends, Pirate Olympics.

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