Does the ghost of an author’s father’s fixation haunt Prince Harry’s memories? | Tim Adams

Jhe term “ghostwriting” was coined by Christy Walsh, whose agency has monitored the literary output of American sports celebrities for years since Babe Ruth. The agency had a set of rules. One suggested that a new ghostwriter “usually makes the mistake of thinking he should write the way his fame talks. It is a mistake. He should write how the public thinks his celebrity speeches.

Prince Harry’s ghostwriter, JR Moehringer, wrote his own memoirs before he began writing the lives of others. In this book, The tender bar, he describes how he was in an existential and drunken search for substitutes for his absent father – a New York DJ – mainly among the regulars of his local liquor. This quest, he suggested, instilled in him a quality that was no doubt later prized by his famous subjects (including Andre Agassi as well as Harry): “I was a master of ‘stealing’. ‘identity’ when this crime was more benign. The bar gave me the habit of turning everyone who crossed my path into a mentor or a character, and I credit the bar, and blame it, for becoming a reflection or refraction of them all,” he said. -he writes. .

No doubt Moehringer was chosen to write the prince’s confessional because he seemed like a kindred spirit, aggrieved and voluble. However, you also suspect that, like all writers, Moehringer will have seen the project as another way of writing about himself.

At first

Hope is eternal in Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter as a “digital town square”. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The story of the genesis of social media is often referred to as the story of CommuniTree, which is also a story of Eden and the fall. CommuniTree was one of the first open-access digital forums, created in Santa Cruz, California in 1978 when modem-connected personal computers began humming. The discussion forum allowed like-minded enthusiasts to discuss any topic they wished; users described it, at first, as “the coming post-industrial cybernetic computopia!”.

For a few years, the tone on his bulletin boards was one of mutual respect and positive energy. That changed, however, when some high school teenagers armed with modems ransacked CommuniTree, taking free speech to an extreme.

The barbarians, or “trolls” as they became known among the older members, ignored the rules, encouraging violence, spoiling it for everyone. The CommuniTree founders couldn’t deal with the intimidation and eventually shut down the forum.

These founders would no doubt have been amused to hear Elon Musk refer to his new $44 billion “liberated” Twitter as a “digital town square,” where a “wide range of beliefs can be debated in a meaningful way.” healthy”. Computopias eternal spring.

Who dares

A scene from the BBC's new SAS drama Rogue Heroes.
“Just cracking on” in a scene from the BBC’s new SAS drama Rogue Heroes. Photography: Congratulations/BBC/PA

Watch a preview of tonight’s new BBC series Rogue heroes on the origins of the SAS (written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight) reminded me of my time with Andy McNab. The Bravo Two Zero the author entered Observer office undercover to talk about an autobiography he had written, Immediate action.

In response to many of my questions about his life – about being left as a baby for adoption in a Harrods carrier bag on the hospital steps, or about the experience of watching friends die in various covert operations – the SAS hero had a stock answer: “You just cracked.”

This philosophy also applied to his relationships. He has been divorced three times. The second separation he described thus: “I threw some things in a bag, went to the first floor window and jumped.” Why not use the stairs? I was wondering. “Well, you’re just cracking up on…”

Tim Adams is an Observer columnist

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