Reminiscent of the halcyon days of late 2005, when the James Frey and JT Leroy hoax stories broke within a few weeks of each other, two new hoaxes have come to light in the past few days, and we just couldn’t resist adding them to the blog.
Firstly, the story of a woman in America who claimed to run drugs for the infamous LA Bloods was denounced in the New York Times when the faux-author’s sister saw a NY Times article about the supposed gangbanger, rang the publisher and dobbed her in. Seltzer claims her book was based on the true stories of several people she knows, to which we respond, ‘that makes it NOT A MEMOIR.’
Second, 71-year-old Misha Defonseca has admitted that her 1997 Holocaust memoir, in which she claimed her parents were abducted by Nazis and she was raised by wolves, is fake. She now claims that her parents were Belgian resistance fighters who were killed by Nazis, and that the book contains her ’emotional truth’. In a interesting bit of additional info, we found out she was awarded millions in damages a few years ago, from a lawsuit against her publisher for breach of contract. The breach involved marketing the book in America, but one has to wonder if the publisher has grounds to demand their $22.5 million back?
Anyway, these two come after a spate of falsies: James Frey, JT Leroy, and Norma Khouri in the memoir crowd, Kaavya Viswanathan in fiction. I’m sure there’s been others lately… The LA Times has a pretty good round-up of memorable literary hoaxes, and The Guardian’s published an older, more ‘literary’ set.
You have to wonder why people bother these days. With the internet, the massive circulation of information, the proliferation of interviews and photographs, the determination of hackers and investigatory websites like the Smoking Gun, and the bunches of folks with too much time on their hands and unlimited Broadband, wouldn’t you expect to get caught?