1.10.2006

JT Leroy is a woman?!

Alriiiight. So while posting my "I promise I'll post more" post I was surfing a few other sites including ask metafilter and I happened across this post on questions about some facts in James Frey's A Million Little Pieces.*

At the time I thought nothing of it and the only reason it caught my eye is that my sister just read the book over Christmas. Literary hoaxes are nothing new and I prefer to read the ones that are pulled on the collectors and haughty intellectual types who think they know better: see Warmly inscribed by the Goldstones for more stories. Then suddenly the literary world is in an uproar because of a certain article on the Smoking Gun website. Now everywhere I turn people seem to be suddenly interested in this story. Even the last story on the news tonight was about the book.

So, what do I have to add to this? Just questions for the publishing industry and our readers.

Are we so inured to the heartbreak in the modern memoir that we're willing to take the author's flights of fancy as truth? Does this go to show that people are still willing to belive everything they read? That if it's outside of academics then there's no reason to be critical? Why did it take The Smoking Gun to break this story? Where were Publishers Weekly and the New York Times when this book came out 3 years ago? Or even when Oprah picked it last year? Are we as an industry so depsperate for sales that we're letting the major media break the story rather than policing ourselves (I know the book came out 2 years ago but it was a lead title on the publisher's list even then)?

This kind of fraud happens ever year, and every two or three years it comes out that someone did something very bad (plagarism, copyright infringement anyone remember these scandals?) and then the whole thing gets cover on CBS Sunday Morning and we go back to our peaceful ways.

The big news to me isn't the lies (much like the JT Leroy story which broke sometime before Christmas since I remember reading a 15 page article on who was really JT Leroy) but the complacency within the industry to let this go on for two years. We had to wait for it to sell thousands of copies to make someone notice the facts didn't add up.

*Why an Amazon link? I thought you hated to link to Amazon and would rather use www.isbn.nu or the actual publisher's for book titles? Because Amazon is a great place to pick up on some raw emotions and gut reactions to the book. Read the reviews from January 2006 and don't forget to check out the forums!

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