In media circles, there is a joke about facts that are too good to check. This week Oprah Winfrey and the New York publishing industry stumbled on yet another unverified account in the form of a Holocaust survivor who said his future wife had helped him stay alive while he was imprisoned as a child in a Nazi concentration camp by throwing apples over the fence to him.
And so another memoir is pulled from publication. This is getting to be such a common occurrence that it’s almost not worth pointing out. Really, where does the blame lie for this kind of thing? You could lay it on the agent, who should have made sure of the manuscript’s authenticity before she shopped it around for publication. Or you could lay it on the publisher, who should have checked out the manuscript’s veracity before agreeing to put its imprint on it. But I place the blame squarely on the writer. It may be a good story, but if it’s not true, it’s fiction, not memoir.