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Fake Memoirs




Some of these posts have an incredible lag-phase, in often being on topics that have been done and dusted years previously. For some reason it reminds me of The Two Ronnies Answering the Question before Last Sketch of fond memory.

But this one is a hardly perennial for readers and writers.

BBC Radio 4’s Open Book (Sunday 9 March) covered four interesting topics, including a discussion of bogus memoirs. Blake Eskin, who wrote A Life in Pieces: The Making and Unmaking of Binjamin Wilkomirski discusses the ins and outs. He takes up the story in Slate, explaining how he cames across the other classic fake, Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, by Misha Defonseca, while doing research on Wilkomirski :Eskin is a real Wilkomirski on his mother’s side.

Jonathan Lear The Man Who Never Was (NYT, February 24, 2002)

Julia Pascal’s review of Eskin in The Independent (also 2002)

Jamais deux sans trois, there was James Frey’s, A Million Little Pieces. Note the comment about Fey’s writing style. There is no way I would read the other two, so no way of checking whether anything comparable in the style department.

A 9 March 2008 NYT Op-Ed by Daniele Mandelsohn, Stolen Suffering, covers all three fakes and mentions yet another, Love and Consequences by Margaret Seltzer, also recently exposed. He says:

In an era obsessed with “identity,” it’s useful to remember that identity is precisely that quality in a person, or group, that cannot be appropriated by others; in a world in which theme-park-like simulacra of other places and experiences are increasingly available to anyone with the price of a ticket, the line dividing the authentic from the ersatz needs to be stressed, rather than blurred. As, indeed, Ms. De Wael has so clearly blurred it, for reasons that she has suggested were pitiably psychological. “The story is mine,” she announced. “It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving.”

The Eskin might be a good read.

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March 10, 2008 - Posted by | fake memoirs | ,

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