The talk for about a week now has been about two authors who wrote what they claimed were memoirs, but were actually lies. Remind you of James Frey’s A Million Little Lies, er, Pieces?
Two authors within a week have been exposed.
According to the Baltimore Sun, one book, though not out in the U.S., has already been “disseminated worldwide, translated into 18 languages and made into a feature film in France.” In Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years, author Misha Defonseca claimed to be a Jewish woman “orphaned at age 4 and forced to wander alone through the forests, where she was protected by a pack of wolves.” Turns out she’s not even Jewish.
Then there’s Margaret B. Jones, the protagonist of the memoir Love and Consequences who is “a half-Native American, half-white girl who sold drugs for a gang in Los Angeles.” Not. Her name’s Margaret Seltzer, she didn’t sell drugs and she comes from a privileged background.
So what’s going on here? How are publishers to know what is the truth? Should they demand corroborating evidence? In the case of Margaret Seltzer, she had photographs, letters, people pretending to be her foster siblings, a professor. Misha Defonseca had pictures and letters.
Are editors going to have to become more cynical? Are they going to have to do background checks? Are they and the public just going to have to accept that some people lie and will hoodwink readers? Nan A. Talese who published the discredited A Million Little Pieces said, in The First Post, "I don’t think there is any way you can fact-check every single book. It would be very insulting and divisive in the author-editor relationship."
One author you don’t have to worry about is Lynda Sappington. Her latest book is a fantasy fiction – and she’ll be here tomorrow for an interview and to answer your questions. Plus, she’s giving away two copies of Star Sons – Dawn of the Two. See you then!
4 days ago