This isn’t a surprising development, but it’s an unfortunate one. There seems to be some unexplained drama with the R. Kelly life-changer Soula Coaster: Diary of Me, the cover of which made the rounds this morning. Online bookseller Indigo has the title listed for pre-sale, along with the release date of next Tuesday, November 15. But Soula Coaster has been pulled off Amazon with the ominous “We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock” disclaimer. And the project’s co-author David Ritz, a celebrity biographer who not only released books with Grandmaster Flash, Ray Charles, and Tavis Smiley (plus Snoop from The Wire!), but famously co-wrote “Sexual Healing” with Marvin Gaye, confirmed via email that the title wouldn’t be released next week.
First announced back in December 2009, R. Kelly’s memoir was scheduled for early 2011 release on Tavis Smiley’s SmileyBooks. (At the time, the PBS host caught some shit for sponsoring “an accused pedophile.”) “I’m writing this book as Robert, not R. Kelly,” read the Trapped in the Closet savant’s quote in the original 2009 press release. “I’m tired of being misunderstood. I will show you the tears, fears, and sweat. I will open my heart and reveal the good in my life as well as all the drama. I want to tell it like it is.”
The autobiography’s mission seems to have shifted since then, going from heart-opening tell-all to mass-produced scrapbook. From Indigo’s preview copy:
Kelly shares his life story through episodic tales and exclusive color photographs, exploring his meteoric rises and sudden falls. From the crippling learning disorder that rendered him unable to read or write, to the teacher/mentor who prophesized that his destiny was in music, not basketball, we follow his evolution from Chicago street performer to struggling L.A. musician and beyond. Kelly reveals his hard-won ascent to superstardom and his battle to move forward after legal and personal ordeals that threatened to destroy his life. Now back at the top, Kelly recounts the surprising twists and turns that have taken him to new heights of maturity and artistry. Part memoir, part keepsake, Soulacoaster unlocks the door to R. Kelly’s story as only he can tell it, promising his fans an intimate and unforgettable ride.
Meanwhile, Hay House imprint SmileyBooks, also responsible for Cornel West titles, appears to have withered into near-oblivion. (The publishing arm’s standalone site has been absorbed into www.tavistalks.com; the PR contact’s email account is no longer active.) Indigo has Soula Coaster listed as a hardcover Hay House release–strange bedfellows considering that the publisher is known for gifting the world with “self-help,” “transformational,” and “inspirational” projects.
As far as we can tell, there’s been little promotion for the “diary,” even though it was supposed to come out sometime next week. We’ve contacted Hay House for comment; Ritz declined to offer any other information.
This is all very sad. What magnificence must lie between those covers?
Update: A SmileyBooks representative gets in touch to clarify, “R. Kelly’s upcoming memoir is indeed still coming out and is slated for a spring 2012 release.” Plenty of time for a title change!