Of Ghostwriters and Translators

Stolen from The Science Writers’ Handbook

It only took several hours to get through the 317 pages of Pedro Martinez’s simply titled memoir Pedro, and it was really fun to read. Take for instance:

I knew [Don] Baylor didn’t know anything about pitching when I heard him speak. He should have known that [Andrés] Galarraga had an open stance that he closed up as he stepped into his swing — he stepped into plenty of pitches and the fact that he wore those pussy pads on his elbows only made it easier for a pitcher like me to locate in the inner half of the plate when he was up to bat. [emphasis mine] p. 100

But as with any other ghostwritten memoir comes the same dilemma: how much of the book is the subject and how much is it the ghostwriter? Pedro may have read through Michael Silverman’s copy thoroughly before approving it and sending it off to the printers, but that gnawing question never goes away. And I’m not saying that to denigrate Pedro. I thought the same thing while reading Joe Torre’s The Yankee Years back in 2009 which was ghostwritten by Tom Verducci.

The same thing crept into my mind earlier this year when I read 1Q84. How much the of gorgeous prose was Murakami and how much was the translators?