Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Make It A Memoir

A riveting tale, set on the border at the height of The Troubles. A young man, running guns for the IRA, forced into service to save his family. Faye Bender will love it. She's a great one for the fiction. I mean memoir.

James Frey did it. Misha Defonseca did it. Most recently, Margaret Seltzer did it. Why not me? Sure I'd love to read a review of my great work in the New York Times, penned by noted critic Michiko Kakutani. She'll call my memoir humane and deeply affecting. My publisher will give me a high five figure advance.

Grand, until a sibling rings up the publisher and tells them it's a cod. Never lived further north than Rathkeale, they'd say. Never touched a gun and wouldn't know a Shinner from shinola.

Margaret Seltzer lied through her teeth, but her cause was noble if you listen to her excuses. Giving a voice to the voiceless, she penned a tale of a white girl raised by black gang bangers, running drugs for the Bloods or the Crips or the Ulster Volunteers for all we know. No one questioned her details. No one checked her facts.

Faye Bender fell in love with the prose, sent the manuscript out on submission, and got an editor at Riverhead to bite. The book was laid down; the author went out on a tour, and then her sister ratted her out.

Fiction is such a tough market, the agents like to tell us in the rejection letters. Is it any wonder that some would lie and cheat to get their prose published?

But just in case I can pull off my own scam, Up the 'RA.

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