Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What's Wrong With Writing Fiction?

The most beleaguered category in literature these days, the poor traditional memoir, takes another beating this week with the news that Riverhead's hotly reviewed Love and Consequences is fiction from start to finish. I get a little peeved when every bit of book media references James Frey in situations like this, if only because I still believe that there are parts of A Million Little Pieces that are true and the book in general is true to the form; but whatever, he lied, we all know that, maybe it's time to move on and let the guy continue with his career.

But I do think that it's quite different from writing an entire FICTIONAL book as this crazy woman has done and then passing it off as a memoir with the vain hope of 'speaking for people who can't speak themselves.' Seriously? That's the reason why? It had nothing to do with you sensationalizing other people's misery and flaunting it all out so you could make a million or two from your book? (Perhaps not now that all the books have been recalled. Ouch. And poor trees. I hope the pulping machines can recover).

I'm kind of flabbergasted that Seltzer actually thought she could get away with it. That the little truth-meter in her mind wasn't blaring when the media started calling and the NY Times raved about her book? And how mad must the sister be for to become the whistle blower? In this day and age, with fingers that fly and author pictures that appear on the web, did she think no one would recognize her? And when she started "speaking" for a neighbourhood, did she not think anyone would come forward and call her out?

It's not so much the surprise that fake memoirs keep finding their way onto the shelves that surprises me, it's more the fact that these writers are making it so much harder for the rest of the genre. Margaret Seltzer might just be an idiot (what would have been wrong with writing fiction?) who made a bad decision, but the more fake memoirs that come out and then are ripped to shreds by the Gawkers of the world, the harder it'll be for people who honestly do have a story to tell and to sell to get published. It's as if the memoir in its truly glorious, Joan Didion loving format, is dying a slow death.

And "homies"? Seriously?

1 comment:

b*babbler said...

Terrific rant.

Truly - what *was* she thinking? I can't even imagine.

And the waste - oh, the waste.