Tuesday, April 08, 2008

truth, fiction, eh? let's get a drink.

Can someone explain to me how Ben Mezrich's imaginatively enhanced nonfiction is different/more okay than what James Frey did?

With the amount of scandal that faux-memoirists and creative non-fiction liars have caused in the past few months, I find it odd that more people aren't upset about this author's free-wheeling take on the genre.

I seem to be the only person in publishing who wasn't totally outraged by the whole James Frey thing, and the last thing I want to do is run Ben Mezrich up on a rail here, especially since I haven't yet read his NYT bestseller Bringing Down the House. I also think that people tend to be too naive about print media, assuming that because something is inked on newsprint in the Globe or the Times or printed in a book, it's a real, honest to God fact. I tend to view media with a more suspicious eye, largely because so many of my cohorts in my Sarah Lawrence days were borderline conspiracy theorists. In the end, everything we write & say is filtered through our bias, thus whatever version of "the truth" a person tells is actually more like a fact-opinion-bias-based cocktail; we can only hope that it's well balanced.

But yeah, this article makes Ben Mezrich sound like Pinocchio. I'm just saying...


east side girl said...

A lot of this comes down to publishers taking responsibility for how they are labeling and selling books--yet the publishers all seem to pretend it's no their fault.

Seems pretty black and white to me: If it's not a true story, then it's NOT NONFICTION!

But the "creative spin" of the publicity/marketing side of the biz too often rears its ugly head, which is why so many books featuring untrue stories wind up labeled as nonfiction.

The disturbing truth: It all comes down to the question of "How can we sell the most copies?" and completley midleads the consumer.

Ah, publishing has so much integrity these days!

Anonymous said...
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twg said...

I'm sure you heard about the untrue holocaust memoir. I personally can't see how anyone even believed that one. I think that's a case of just wanting to believe, à la Fox Mulder's poster.