Posts Tagged ‘publishing. fiction’

Okay, Hillary lives on to fight another day (or at least fifty of them), Mac sews it up and who would have predicted any of it? Since there are a number of blogs dissecting the minutia of this crazy run-up to the nomination, I’d rather turn my attention today to the run of fake, or should I say “faked” memoirs.

As a writer, I’m interested in the proliferation of books that ought to be titled “My Life – Not. ” The latest dust-up is over “Love and Consequences,”a critically acclaimed memoir about a half-white, half-Native American foster child running drugs for gang-bangers in Los Angeles was apparently completely fabricated. The comfortably middle-class all-white woman who wrote the book defended her actions as a way to “give voice to people who people don’t listen to” – a sentence that doesn’t exactly suggest an inspired writing style, never mind that it’s fiction.

Some may remember the tale of James Frey, whose memoir “A Million Little Pieces” was touted by Oprah and sold as her recommendations do – very well indeed. When the truth of his million little lies surfaced, he was emphatically scolded by Oprah on national TV, which was both entertaining and uncomfortable. Last year, Laura Albert applied her talents to writing as JT LeRoy, addict and son of a prostitute; she even managed to find an actor to wrap himselves in scarves and sunglasses to show up as the nonexistent LeRoy at all the right parties. But wait, there’s more: what about the heart-rending memoir of a young girl trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto who killed a German soldier, escaped and trekked a couple thousand miles across Europe in search of her parents. Oh and did I mention the part about her being adopted by wolves who saved her from the Nazis? The book, “Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years” by Misha Defonseca, a Belgian living in Massachusetts, was translated into eighteen languages and was adapted for a French film. It just happens to be complete fantasy. Misha’s name is Monique DeWael and by the way, she’s not even Jewish.

I’m not sure why these folks don’t all just write fiction, since they seem to be good at it. Apparently “real life” stories are seen by the struggling publishing industry (which is obviously saving money by laying off fact-checkers) as  more likely to sell more books. 

I’d love to have the fame and fortune that attend these authors, although obviously not the broken contracts, lawsuits and public humiliation that follow when they’re caught. My reality is pretty boring, except for one rather over-sized event that swamped my life for a time (9/11).  While my experiences are surely memoir-worthy, my “real” story is so much more interesting:

You see, I’m the one-legged illegitimate daughter of a Hollywood screenwriter named as a Communist sympathizer and his beautiful Norwegian/Spanish actress mistress who abandoned me to the streets of London in the late sixties. After falling in with a group of adorable orphans and their charismatic leader, I was taken in by pop model Twiggy, who sent me to a posh boarding school in Switzerland. I spent vacations in Los Angeles singing backup for the BeeGees before dropping out and hitchhiking to India where I worked with Mother Teresa. There I fell in love with a handsome graduate student and champion cyclist teaching American-accented English to start-up entrepreneurs who had an idea for a giant call-center in Bangladesh. The stranger was really a prince in the royal house of some obscure and unpronounceable Arab emirate whose father, a forward-thinking ruler who was actually half-Jewish, was married to a stunningly beautiful Irish-Italian graduate of the London School of Economics. We wed, hosted several peace conferences, produced several stunningly handsome sons and one daughter, a math genius who is a contender in the Miss Teen World competition. Upon the death of my beloved’s father, he took over as a wildly popular leader of his peaceful, ethnically diverse and oil-rich country. After building a sustainable housing project next to our palace,we now divide our time between our lovenest in the desert and our vacation home on an island off the coast of North Carolina, the setting for my next novel.

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