My confusion came from a curious warning. Awash in a sea of writers and would-be writers in a drab-walled meeting room at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference a few years ago in Vancouver, B.C., I was listening to author Dinty W. Moore extol the virtues of creative nonfiction writing when suddenly he straightened his stout body and leaned across the podium. "Look out," he cautioned, his tone dire, "the journalists are coming!"
Appearing in someone else’s memoir is like appearing in someone else’s dream. Your role is scripted according to the vagaries of the author’s memory and subjected to the Rorschach test of the heart. This utter lack of editorial control is the second thought I have on learning, in the pages of the New York Times Book Review, that the son of my late ex-husband has published a memoir of his father, the poet William Matthews.
Two years after publishing a brutal, unflinching account of his drug addiction, James Frey is showing signs of becoming a kinder, gentler writer in his second memoir, My Friend Leonard.
At no time on my book tour did I jump up and down, wave my fists, and scream, “It’s a novel! That means fiction!” At least I don’t think I did. It’s hard to be sure, because, in my head, I had that tantrum about three times daily as I traveled from town to town in southern Michigan, reading, signing books, and attending the Ann Arbor Book Festival. You see, my novel, Flight, was set in that region, where I had lived during my high school and college years.
The woman Laura Albert enlisted to publicly impersonate JT LeRoy, the fictional author created by Albert whose non-identity was exposed in 2005, will publish her own account of the hoax, the New York Post reported today. Twenty-seven-year-old Savannah Knoop, the half sister of Albert's former partner Geoffrey Knoop, has written Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT LeRoy, her memoir of socializing with celebrities while posing, complete with sunglasses and blond wig, as the author of Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, works purportedly based on the author's experiences as a twelve-year-old homeless, abused, and drug-addicted son of a prostitute. Seven Stories Press will publish Knoop's book in October.
The true identity of the authors of Believeniks!, a nonfiction account of the New York Mets 2005 baseball season, published in April by Doubleday, was recently reported by New York Magazine. The pseudonymous authors, Harry Conklin and Ivan Felt, were revealed to be novelists Jonathan Lethem (Conklin) and Christopher Sorrentino (Felt).
Günter Grass recently filed a lawsuit against Random House, whose German imprint Goldmann Verlag released in October an updated version of Michael Juerg’s 2002 biography of the Nobel Prize winner, Guenter Grass.
Two weeks after customs officials detained British memoirist Sebastian Horsley and prevented him from entering the United States, the PEN American Center has issued a letter of appeal to the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to review the case and allow the author to return to the country. Horsley, who flew back to the U.K. after the incident at Newark Liberty International Airport on March 18, has been invited to paricipate in PEN's World Voices Festival of International Literature at the end of this month.