Despite the existence of a handy little genre called ‘fiction,’ the chance of enjoying both a financial windfall and some celebrity status by being the author of a sensational memoir are still proving so tempting that some will happily dispense with any notions of authorial integrity.
Riverhead books are currently pulling all the copies of Love and Consequences by Margaret B. Jones (real name, Margaret Selzer), since it has been discovered that this memoir of gang brutality in LA is entirely fabricated. This is the second high profile instance of ‘memoir fraud’ this week. Earlier, Misha Defonsica, author of Surviving With Wolves, published eleven years ago about her experiences during the Holocaust, admitted that her memoir contained large chunks of fictional content. Given that there are those who deny the Holocaust even occurred, Defonsica’s actions seem particularly insidious.
Meanwhile in Spain, the trial is being re-opened into accusations of plagiarism against Spanish Nobel Prize-Winner Camilio Jose Cela, who died in 2002. Cela was accused of stealing sections of fellow-Spanish writer, Carmen Formosa’s book Carmen, Carmela, Carmina, and using them in his own novel, La Cruz de San Andres. Somehow, though, to me, stealing someone else’s fictional work seems less monstrous than peddling lies as truth. Cela may earn a posthumous ‘pass’ for his sins, I’m not sure so sure about the other two, however….