An investigative Web site has alleged that James Frey's best-selling memoir
about substance abuse, A Million Little Pieces, wildly exaggerates his
past, with inflated claims about his criminal record and about his involvement
in an accident that killed two high school students.
"Police reports, court records, interviews with law enforcement personnel,
and other sources have put the lie to many key sections of Frey's book,"
according to an article posted Sunday on http://www.thesmokinggun.com/.
This follows Dr. Hwang's human cloning claims being shown to be fraudulent (although it appears his claims of cloning a dog are still legitimate).
And then there's last month's story that parts of Nicole Helget's critically acclaimed The Summer of Ordinary Ways, particularly some of the most compelling sections, are fabricated. One thing that is discomforting about this case is the response by Greg Britton of the Minnesota Historical Society Press, the publisher:
"It doesn't surprise me that there are people who disagree with Nicole's
memories," Britton says. "But they are her memories; she gets to own them.
Memory is a delicate thing. It's not necessarily about what happened. It's all
about the perception of what happened."
OK, I might agree that there may be some value in a memoir of the false memories of a 29-year old woman from a fairly typical middle class upbringing, but should it be published by a state historical society?
Beyond that, is it me, or is something going on here? It seems increasingly the truth can't get a dog to play with it wthout a pork chop necklace. But how much of this is old fashioned fraud, how much of this is being just plain wrong, and how much is innocently remembering differently? Or how much of it is something else?
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