January 29, 2006

Technorati Profile
>Why We Read and Write and Lie About the Misery Memoir
Tim Adams of The Observer was riding the subway in London and saw a woman reading the misery memoir entitled A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. The book chronicles the “abuse, starvation, and tortured [the author suffered] at the hands of his mother.” Adams asks, “What is the attraction of reading endlessly about child torture?” In light of the Frey and JT LeRoy issue, few people have asked why we read these books, each seemingly attempting to outdo the other in terms of perdition and salvation.

Ron Hogan, editor for the blog Beatrice.com, asked John Falk to write about memoir writing. Falk’s publisher recently released his Hello to All That. He writes, “If you’re honest, you let the facts drive the story, even if it seems to be taking one off course.” That could be the advise for publishers as well. According to Timothy Noah for Slate, Nan Talese—the publisher of A Million Little Pieces and the wife of Gay Talese—had “reason to believe Frey hadn’t told the truth in his memoir well before” the Smoking Gun article appeared. Why? In 2003, Deborah Caulfield Rybak published a piece in the Minneapolis Star Turbine that noted the lies.

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