Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 24 - A Book you later found out the Author lied about

I hit this topic yesterday. My first reaction was, "Who picks these topics?" After thinking about it for a whole day my reaction still is, "Who picks these topics?"

I don't know how long this 30-Day Book Challenge has been up on Facebook because I'm a Facebook novice compared to others. It strikes me as pulled from the headlines, specifically the James Frey controversy over his A Million Little Pieces memoir. I've not read this book and probably won't. It does not interest me.

But, I've been thinking about all the books I have read over the years. I started in fiction. Someone's ability to tell a good story will never, ever not be needed as long as humans can communicate. Reading Rainbow's theme song defines storytelling.

Butterfly in the sky
I can go twice as high
Take a look
It's in a book
A Reading Rainbow

I can go anywhere
Friends to know
And ways to grow
A Reading Rainbow

I can be anything
Take a look
It's in a book
A Reading Rainbow
A Reading Rainbow

Books transport you to places you wouldn't be able to go. Books will assault your senses on topics you may have avoided. Books help heal. Books provide laughter and can make you cry. I've done all these things and more with a book.

As my tastes in literature changed, I have gravitated toward non-fiction and history. I look through my pile and over 70% of the books in the to be read stack are non-fiction. When I wander a bookstore, that's where I find myself. In the past, I would have spent time in fiction. How can you say an author of fiction lies when, technically, the whole thing is made up anyway? So I can't point to a fiction work and say the author lied.

I could point to the Nancy Drew series and say the publisher lied to me. I always thought Carolyn Keene was a real person and I was amazed at her ability to churn out a new book about every 6 weeks and have them be as good as they were. It's only in the last 20 years that we've come to know it was a series of authors who wrote them and the Hardy Boys books. 

I don't think I have ever found out later that the author of a book I read lied to me. Non-fiction and history books have to, by their topic, be researched and contain a bibliography. I like to read the bibliographies in books like Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm. It gives me a sense that if I really wanted to check his veracity, I could read anything he cites as a source.

Hence, I have nothing for this topic. Perhaps, had James Frey not been called on the carpet by The Smoking Gun or Oprah, there would be more books where authors fudged or outright lied. But, we live in a world now where what you did 20 years ago as a rambunctious teenager can be found out. You don't have the ability to hide. If you write something about your life and say, "I broke Mrs. White's windows on that gray Sunday morning while she was at church," you better have done that because, if you didn't, we'll find out.

I'm unsure if that's good or bad.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


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