Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And you thought James Frey was a bogus writer!

Holy cow. James Frey looks like the most respected and truth-telling memoirist in history compared to this guy. If Nan Talese got duped by Frey, imagine how Anton Mueller (at Houghton Mifflin) must feel.

In this case, however, countless people told Mueller something was amiss in the memoir (or many things were amiss) and he chose to overlook them. From the LA Weekly article:

“I said, you’re going to pay for this later — this is not real,” Alexie says.

According to Alexie, however, Mueller was unmoved by their conversation. “Basically his attitude was that it’s a great book and the art is more important than the truth.”

And there is the rub. What is with Mueller's arrogance? (and Houghton Mifflin's for that matter, which was notified independently that the writing was full of untruths, yet they decided to publish anyway.) He's wrong. 100% wrong. If art is more important than truth then publish it as fiction. Everyone I know talks down about publishing: editors, agents, etc. Everyone says what a bunch of morons they are, and--even though I defend them--they tend to show us they are. Calling a book a memoir automatically instills a level of emotion that you must work ten times harder to acheive with fiction. And I am not saying I have mastered that, by any means--but at least I label my work as fiction and try.

The fiction market is far more difficult to enter than the narrative non-fiction market--and I know at least ten agents and ten editors who will back me up on this. That is why the Freys and the "Nasdijjs" enter the world of the memoir. Because the truth is neither of their books would have been published as fiction. I mean, even Houghton Mifflin realized the book would only work as a memoir. What does that tell you?

So, we have a new rule apparently: If you can't get published, go POD. Or write a bogus memoir.