The line comes near the end of the paragraph. Reviewer Jessica Pressler has finished eviscerating actor-turned-travel writer Andrew McCarthy’s new memoir, The Longest Way Home, and has turned her attention to actor-turned-fiction writer Molly Ringwald’s debut novel, When It Happens to You. She’s given us the premise (a marriage unraveled by infidelity), called the writing “spare,” and then this:
“[Ringwald’s] second husband, a book editor, may be the reason her prose is so sharp…”
Wait, what? I know that we writers love to mock celebrity author dilettantes, but surely, if the book is good, then the book is good, and Ringwald is off the hook. Surely she can be added to the very short list of Actors Whose Writing Efforts We Take Seriously, alongside, say, Steve Martin.
Wrong. Instead, Pressler places Ringwald on a less illustrious list: Female Authors Whose Talent is Credited to the Men in Their Lives. She’s in good company there – Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has long been credited, in rumor, to her friend Truman Capote, and Beryl Markham’s marriage to a ghost writer led a biographer to suggest that the husband must have written West With the Night.
Funnily, I can’t recall ever seeing a suggestion that a successful male author with a wife or female friend in publishing might not be responsible for his own work.