One of my favorite writers is Allan Sloan, the financial journalist from Newsweek. If you ever want to read compelling writing, pick up a copy. Any person who can make corporate mergers and mutual fund topics fun to read is a writer to watch.
If he’s covering a stock that he owns or an organization owned by the Newsweek parent company, he begins his column with a disclosure.
That’s what I’m doing. Beginning this post with a disclosure.
I’m currently shopping a memoir and that certainly colors how I view James Frey and the whole MILLION LITTLE You-Know-What smoking gun.
Why? Because the memoir I’m shopping is beautifully written, meticulously researched, and we have all the documentation to warm even the most cynical, detailed-oriented fact-checking heart.
We didn’t lie, embellish, or otherwise make up a story that is being circulated as truth.
The trouble we are having is that editors love it, are very complimentary, but are afraid that it won’t be “big” enough for their house so hence, must pass with regret.
Translation: We didn’t lie, embellish or otherwise make up the truth in order to make the story more titillating, controversial, or “big” enough to be worth publishing.
That says a lot about publishing today unfortunately.
It is Much Ado About Something. A memoir is about truth from that one person’s perspective. It’s not about making it up so it will be an over-the-top spectacular victim story that will be “big” enough to sell a lot of copies.
Is there a redemptive quality based on the solidness of the inspirational message (which has been suggested)? If there is, I’m not seeing it. This story didn’t happen so how can triumph over events that didn’t exist be an inspiration for others who really suffer from addiction and are struggling to overcome?
If you really want to read a good, true story of recovery from addiction, I’d boycott Frey and pick up Heather King’s PARCHED.
At least she understands that a memoirist’s reputation is built on integrity. As she says, “It’s every writer’s sacred honor to “get it right,” but perhaps the burden falls heaviest on the memoirist…”