Type casting: the worst novels by Hollywood actors
Tom Hanks has written a book. Titled Uncommon Type: Some Stories, Hanks’s book is a collection of 17 short stories, each in some way involving a typewriter. It will be released in October and – if it’s all to the same standard as Allan Bean Plus Four, the short story Hanks wrote for the New Yorker in 2014 – it’s going to be pretty good.
But let’s be clear: even if Uncommon Type ends up as the most rapturously received work of printed fiction ever written by an actor, that will largely be because most books written by actors are dogmuck. Allow me to ignore the good ones (hello, Steve Martin and Hugh Laurie) and focus on the very worst.
Star: A Novel, by Pamela Anderson, 2004
Blurb: “Playful, bawdy and curl-your-toes sexy, Star is an insider’s look at a world of inflated egos and inflated bodies.”
Crimes committed against publishing: Like many celebrity novels, Star is a lightly-fictionalized account of Anderson’s rise to fame. Also contains a stretch where Star hits puberty and mistakes her breasts for cancer. In this stretch, her breasts are referred to as “poisonous nodes”.
Amazon users said: “I thought this was a great book, i didn’t really know what to think when i bought it, but i was honestly not disoppointed. I was a bit shocked, (If this really is about Pam’s life) about how much she ‘got around’.”
Paradise Alley: A Novel, by Sylvester Stallone, 1978
Blurb: “Star and author of Rocky”
Crimes committed against publishing: Hot on the heels of Rocky, Stallone decided to write, direct and star in a wrestling movie called Paradise Alley. The film performed disappointingly, but that didn’t stop Stallone from releasing Paradise Alley as a novel. That’s right – he published his own novelization of a film that nobody liked.
Amazon users said: “This is a great movie I saw this years ago and loved it good story and if you love wrestling you love this because this is the greatest wrestling movie and love story and just fun to watch.”
TekWar, by William Shatner, 1989
Blurb: “Jake Cardigan, a one-time high-flying policeman, is released from the Freezer many years before his term was up, to help track down a famous scientist and his daughter. Cardigan finds himself in the middle of a full-blown war.”
Crimes committed against publishing: If you like relentlessly pulpy sci-fi, then TekWar actually isn’t that bad. This might be because Shatner didn’t actually write it; the books were all penned by prolific ghostwriter Ron Goulart. A bigger crime, however, is how baldly Shatner wanted TekWar to become a TV show, and how awful the results were when he succeeded.
Amazon users said: “Got this due to the mention in father ted, looks good in your collection”
Propeller One-Way Night Coach: A Fable for All Ages, by John Travolta, 1997
Blurb: “When his actress mother decides to move to Hollywood, Jeff, an eight-year-old boy who dreams of flying in a plane, begins his journey with connecting flights, airline food, stopovers, and time spent in first class.”
Crimes committed against publishing: This book was written and illustrated by Travolta, who has no real aptitude for either. He originally wrote it as a gift to 75 friends. It’s called A Fable for All Ages even though it’s just a gussied-up kids’ book. And it’s about airplanes. Of course it’s about bloody airplanes.
Amazon users said: “For a first time-way to go John! Your my favorite actor and now you can be one of my role models since you published a book(one of my all time goals!!)”
Actors Anonymous: A Novel, by James Franco, 2015
Blurb: “Hollywood has always been a private club. I open the gates. I say welcome. I say, look inside.”
Crimes committed against publishing: Self-conscious to the point of inanity, Actors Anonymous is built on a towering stack on unwarranted pretension that sporadically attempts to undercut itself with a scene where a professor tells Franco that his book isn’t very good. Also includes an oral sex scene in a public bathroom that ends with a character spitting semen on to an unflushed turd.
Amazon users said: “Another great book by the delicious actor but not as good as his great smile”
The Justice Riders, by Chuck Norris, 2006
Blurb: “The debut novel by Chuck Norris and friends”
Crimes committed against publishing: Ah, “and friends”. The cover for The Justice Riders is a thing to behold. “A novel by Chuck Norris” it reads, before adding in smaller letters: “Ken Abraham, Aaron Norris & Tim Grayem”. You’ll buy it for Chuck Norris, but read it for the panicky committee tasked with scraping his words into some sort of shape.
Amazon users said: “Well it appears that Chuck Norris is a man of many hidden talents. Not only is he able to roundhouse kick a terrorist into a pile of boxes, and break the world landspeed record in a yacht, but he’s also not bad with a typewriter.”
Junior, or Oscar De La Mancha, the Wembling Warrior, and the People I Like the Least (Not A Novel), A Written Project from the Normal, Well Adjusted and ‘No I Don’t have Issues with my Father!’ Mind of … Junior (Meaning Me), by Macaulay Culkin, 2006
Blurb: “His therapist says he has issues with closure. (Granted, this book has seven endings). This is not a novel. (Except for the bits that aren’t true).”
Crimes committed against publishing: Have a guess.
Amazon users said: “Interesting short stories, wasn’t sure where it was going…then it ended. Perhaps my fault for expecting things to come together.”