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Sepiamutiny has a link about a girl who has to write a paper on “Hindu” for a college course, and asks for help from a random dude she accosted on IM (whose AOL profile said he was interested in “Eating Hindu Sculpture”), and who conveniently happened to be something of a comedy writer. He plays along, and in return for a promised $75, writes an essay that includes lines like:

Your actions in each lifetime affect your karma, and if a Shudra watches dharma and greg, it will have a positive effect on his karma, perhaps elevating him into a class in which she will be allowed to study the Vedas and progress along its spiritual path.

While the authenticity of the story is questionable (maybe an April Fool's prank, according to Boing Boing), it is funny as hell and a nice (if slightly tangential) segue to what I wanted to talk about:

An intriguing premise for a book – a ghost writer coming out of the closet.

For nearly 15 years I wrote hundreds of letters that weren't from me. They ranged from perfunctory thank-you notes and expressions of condolence, to extensive correspondence with the great and the good: politicians, newspaper editors, bishops, members of the House of Lords. The procedure I followed with a more intimate letter was to type it up, double-spaced in large font, and print it out. My employer – the sender of the letter – would then copy it painstakingly on to embossed notepaper using a Mont Blanc pen and blotting paper, signing it with a flourish at the bottom.

The book is starting to generate a lot of buzz prior to its US release on April 12th – a classier Nanny Diaries maybe?

The Guardian has an excerpt.

Ghost-writing is not new. It might almost qualify as the oldest profession if prostitution had not laid prior claim. And there is more than a random connection between the two: they both operate in rather murky worlds, a fee is agreed in advance and given “for services rendered”, and those who admit to being involved, either as client or service-provider, can expect negative reactions – anything from mild shock and disapproval to outright revulsion. A professor at my old university, a distinguished classicist with feminist leanings, was appalled when she heard what I did for a living and pronounced me “no better than a common whore”. This – the whiff of whoredom – is perhaps the main reason why people opt for absolute discretion.