Wednesday, March 05, 2008
There have been a lot of false memoirs exposed recently. It turns out Margaret Jones was not a mixed-race, gang affiliated foster kid.
Back in February we found out Misha Defonseca was not a Holocaust survivor, so sue me I think the 'adopted by a pack of wolves' bit of that story should have tipped a few people off.
Oh, and around the same time is was discovered that Ishmael Beah's story of being a child soldier in Sierre Leone may be somewhat exaggerated too, a revelation sparked by the appearance of the "orphan's" father.
Why are people outraged? Isn't a story a good story regardless? I would argue: no. It is a timely reminder that a book is not just an object. It is also a promise, a request for trust. We promise the book with be technically acceptable, physically sturdy, moderately entertaining and match the description in the blurb.
That includes, for memoirs, that they will be substantially true.