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And Yet Another Memoir Hoax

Rosenblat’s “Angel at the Fence” had been scheduled to come out in February, but Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), withdrew the memoir Saturday following allegations by scholars, friends and family members that his tale was untrue.

The Times says today that Rosenblat “first concocted his story in the mid-1990s as an entry to a newspaper contest soliciting the ‘best love stories.'” Long before he fooled his agent and Berkley, he fooled Oprah Winfrey and many others. “In 1996, he appeared on Ms. Winfrey’s show with his wife and repeated the fabricated story. From there, it snowballed, with versions appearing in magazines, a volume of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and a children’s book, Angel Girl, by Laurie Friedman, released in September by an imprint of Lerner Publishing. Mr. and Mrs. Rosenblat, who now live in North Miami Beach, appeared on CBS’s Early Show in October.”

Let me explain why these repeated tales piss me off so much.

1. For the ‘memoir’ alone, they received about $50,000 in advance. The average author’s advance is about $5000 so these liars made BIG BANK.

2. They made even more cash off the newspaper contest, children’s book and Chicken Soup for the Soul chapter.

3. It is nearly impossible for new authors to be published, fiction OR non-fiction. Every time one of these memoirs are revealed to be nothing but vivid imagination, it makes that much harder for those writers working their asses off on genuine non-fiction to actually get a publishing contract.

4. It causes the reading public and media outlets to become more and more cynical about future memoirs, which hurts the chances of any author actually make a living by writing.

And finally, on a grander scale, there is always a certain segment of the populace that shrugs and says “Who cares if it’s true?”, which truly makes me wonder about the future of humanity. It is this attitude that excuses excessive corporate compensation and malfeasance, political misdeeds, and something as simple as buying a term paper online. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe integrity and honesty are non-negotiable – and that includes any book filed under non-fiction.

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