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Ghosting: A Double Life [Paperback]

Jennie Erdal
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Jun 2005
Ghosting is a remarkable account of one woman's life - or, to be more accurate, lives. For fifteen years, Jennie Erdal had a double existence: officially she worked as a personal editor for one particular man - Tiger - but in reality she was his ghost-writer and in some mysterious sense his alter ego. During this time she wrote a great deal that appeared under his name - from personal letters and business correspondence to newspaper columns, novels and full length books. Ghosting moves from a vivid evocation of an austere upbringing in Fife to superbly rendered portraits of the people with whom Jennie Erdal worked at a London-based publishing house, chief among them Tiger, the larger-than-life character with whom the author had a unique and symbiotic relationship; professionally hidden, yet somehow truthful and intimate. This moving and beautifully written memoir is laced throughout with rich, quiet comedy and profound insights into what it means to be human and to live in language. Ghosting is a meditation on words, identity and creativity, but above all it is a portrait of a uniquely intimate relationship between a man and a woman.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; New Ed edition (30 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841956376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841956374
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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* Jennie Erdal set a benchmark for candour and wisdom when she wrote about her 15-year association with Niam Attallah in the brilliant memoir Ghosting. Independent * A little masterpiece about a relationship, superbly written in a down to earth style, and as enjoyable as a good novel. Sunday Times * If this were simply a ghost-and-tell book, it would be of interest only to a very limited number of the London literati. But it is much, much more than that; it is a beautifully composed memoir; sometimes rather desperate, sometimes very funny, of an extraordinary symbiotic relationship between two very different people. -- Craig Brown Mail On Sunday * Jennie Erdal has written a book that is hugely enjoyable to read, touches on profound questions about language and writing and provides a vivid and often affectionate, but fairly merciless, portrait of an exasperating, despotic, self-deluding but in the end likable figure, with the tantrums of a small child and the plumage of a peacock. -- Caroline Moorehead Spectator

About the Author

Jennie Erdal worked as an editor and translator for many years. Ghosting is her first book published under her own name. She lives in St Andrews.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent 14 Dec 2004
Having picked up a copy on the back of a dismissive Newsnight review (Kirsty Wark is so seldom right about anything..),I recently had the pleasure of being stuck on a delayed train with a copy of Ghosting. Never has a 7 hour journey been so enjoyable!
Ghosting is a truly remarkable debut from the (Mont Blanc) pen of the fabulous Jennie Erdal.
Much fuss has been made in some parts of the media about the mysterious nature of the relationship between the flamboyant Naim Attalah and the intelligent and loyal Erdal.
However, the real beauty of the book is in how it describes Erdal's gifted and imaginative approach to their strange working life whilst raising three children in her homeland of Fife.
I will not be the only reader desperately awaiting Erdal's next book. The technically excellent writing is a joy to read and now that she will have the chance to explore her own ideas we are certain to be in for a series of treats in the future.
To conclude, Ghosting is a fascinating account for followers of the literary world and the lay person alike. It is a truly remarkable tale and should find its way onto everyone's Christmas list. Five stars!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Having read this book over the Holidays I can't agree with the review in the Financial Times (Wed Dec 24, 2004) that this is the "business book of the year". I found it a very touching personal tale about the challenges she faced in her own life (divorce; life with young children; a home in Scotland and a job in London; memories of her childhood) as well as the challenges of working for the man she calls "Tiger" - as both a ghostwriter and editor the Russian List at his publishing company.
However, the heart of the book is the struggle she had as the ghostwriter of two of his novels. There are insightful and - for anyone who is a writer - incredible useful passages about the process of writing. Since she is forced to write fiction on behalf of another she faces the challenge of finding an authentic 'voice' in which to write - a voice that must appear to be someone else's:
"The fact that I was writing as someone else - with a mask on, as it were - inevitably added yet another layer of complexity. I did and did not feel responsible for the words on the page, I did and did not feel that they belonged to me; I did and did not feel that I could defend them in my heart." (p.142)
So on the one hand this is far more a personal memoir than a business book. On the other hand, maybe the FT is right. To the extent that all of us work in corporations where we face the challenge of appearing sincere and committed to an agenda that does not belong to us we are all 'ghosting' .
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let Tiger take over! 21 Dec 2004
My interest in this beautifully-written memoir was piqued when I was informed that it was about ghost writing. I had always known that ghost writers existed and generally assumed that the fruits of their labours were rather bland autobiographies of semi-literate footballers and supermodels. With regard to Jennie Erdal's Ghosting, however, I could not have been more wrong. All preconceptions took flight at this sensitive account of the curious relationship between the flamboyant and eccentric Tiger and his rather more reserved Scottish 'editor'. For how does one write another's work, express another's thoughts, ideas, even beliefs? Can the ghost writer erase herself from the creative process if the details and nuances of the work are products of her own imagination and are influenced by the circumstances and events of her own life?
As in life, I imagine, the entertaining and maddening Tiger can dominate the pages of this book if you let him. However, Ghosting is so much more than a portrait of this larger than life character. Recent reviews in the press have tended to focus on this aspect of the work and have missed the point, somewhat, of what the author is doing. First and foremost, Ghosting is a memoir and, appropriately for the first book published under her own name, Erdal seeks to exorcise the influence of a man who was both extremely generous to her and profoundly stultifying to her creativity. It is most rewarding to observe the emergence of a voice, heard before, but not recognised or able to speak freely.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding first book 21 Nov 2004
By A Customer
Ghosting is a truly fascinating memoir. While Jennie Erdal no doubt offers a unique insight into the world of ghost writing, she probes the deeper psychological issues surrounding the work and draws the reader both into her own mind and that of her employer, 'Tiger'. The resulting book portrays its subjects in a beautiful way. Given the story as it happened, it is surprising we don't find more hints of bitterness from Erdal; instead she reflects on a two-decade career with fondness, bewilderment, a little frustration and a huge dose of humour.
This is a wonderful book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weird, powerful, moving and hilarious. 6 Nov 2004
By A Customer
This book made me laugh out loud again and again, and also made my eyes burn with tears. I did not want to stop reading until the end, and then I wished it hadn't ended. It is the story of how Jennie Erdal came to write secretly all the many books and articles 'written' by an extraordinary, colourful, charismatic middle eastern publisher. But it is not kiss and tell - it is about how two very different people came to merge themselves in the writing project. Weird, powerful, moving and absolutely hilarious.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by crocus
2.0 out of 5 stars incoherant
Well, I disliked it - but for completely opposite reasons to another review.
I don't think she should have been grateful for her employer's generousity. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Rose
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosting
Fantastically written, very interesting and highly amusing throughout. I would definitely recommend it as a quirky and different sort of tale.
Published 16 months ago by DRN
4.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably ignorant behaviour
This story is written by a woman who was dumped by her first husband and who, but for the generosity of the man she calls Tiger, might have spent the next twenty years as a... Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Again satisfaction
This order was completed in good time and with the usual efficiency that one expects from the Amazon machine. Read more
Published on 2 Jan 2012 by Prof J E McLACHLAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosting
I loved Jennie Erdal Ghosting. All of us readers dream of writing our own book one day. If thats you, then this is the book for you. Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2010 by BeeTee St Albans
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets
This is a beautifully written account of a ghost-writers life- where real life keeps happening to the writer at the same time. Read more
Published on 7 April 2005 by Pelican
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete one off
A fascinating memoir told in a beautiful first book. Ghosting explores the relationship of Erdal and the man for whom she ghost-wrote. Read more
Published on 21 Nov 2004 by "kirstyallingham"
5.0 out of 5 stars My book of the year
I haven't found myself so engrossed in a book for years. This book is charming, intelligent, funny, expertly written and deeply moving - and, I felt, a beautiful love story between... Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2004
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