Apparently truth isn’t stranger than fiction. Just ask J.T. LeRoy (or not, seeing as that persona was invented wholecloth by Laura Albert and Geoffrey Knoop) and James Frey. You’d think after two high-profile revelations that best selling memoirs were almost wholly fiction, book publishers would be a little gun-shy about releasing memoirs without doing some serious research first, but you’d be flat out wrong.
Last month author Misha Defonseca admitted that her harrowing tale of surviving the Holocaust was completely fabricated. While earlier this month Margaret B. Jones (whose memoir about growing up as a foster child in South Central surrounded by drugs and gangs has received critical acclaim) was revealed to be Margaret Seltzer, whose own upbringing (raised in Sherman Oaks by her affluent natural parents), makes Vanilla Ice look downright street-tough by comparison.
And finally, Long Way Home, the best-selling memoir of Ishmael Baeh whose experience as a child soldier in Serra Leone has been called into question as well.
It’s enough to make you skip straight to technical manuals, eh? What’s most telling is that in nearly all of these cases, the books were originally written as fiction and then massaged into memoirs to make them more attractive to publishers.