Fabricated Tales Rock the Memoir Writing World: National Association of Memoir Writers Sheds Light o

From: The National Association of Memoir Writers
Published: Thu Jan 29 2009


Recent cases of writers creating false memoirs are circulating the Internet, blogs and news groups. Love and Consequences, a supposed memoir by Margaret Jones was debunked less than a week after it was published. A Million Little Pieces, a memoir by James Frey, was found to have several exaggerations, seriously calling into question the validity of the work. Some critics said it should be classified as fiction.

The latest case to surface is Angel at the Fence. The memoir was written by Herman Rosenblat, a Holocaust survivor. In the book, he claims a young girl, hiding nearby, threw apples over a fence to him so he wouldn’t starve. He said that 20 years later he met that very same girl on a blind date in New York City. The two married, and didn’t tell anyone of their bizarre connection. According to Rosenblat, years later, his dead mother appeared to him in a dream saying he should pen the tale. A professor, director of the Jewish Studies program at Michigan State University, became aware of the story and was convinced it was logistically impossible. Several people, some even relatives of Rosenblat, have confirmed the memoir is false.

What does this mean for memoir writers in general? Do scenes freshened by imaginative details make your memoir false? Do imaginative details destroy the truth of a scene? “Tobias Wolf, Mary Karr, and other memoirists long ago led the way for using fiction techniques to make a story alive and have it read with the immediacy and color of a novel,” says Linda Joy Myers, president of the National Association of Memoir Writers. “In all the recently publicized cases of ‘false memoir,’ the issue has not been incorrect memory, but the intention to deceive.”

“I have always reassured my students that creating believable scenes using accurate details is not fictionalizing because their intent is to create an accurate story. And, if the intention is not to create a false story??"if the writer has an ethic about truth??"then we must be able to support the standard of truth in our memoir??"and keep writing,” Myers continues.
The NAMW offers teleseminars to assist memoir writers in reaching their goals and sorting through all the questions, including an upcoming session entitled “Discover the Story Amidst the Facts.” According to Jerry Waxler, seminar leader, “When you look back through time, you see the world through the strange lens of memory. Memory is filled with tangled knots, murky fragments, regrets, along with sparks of joy and achievement. You know you lived your life, but your memory is at best an imperfect representation of it.” More information about the upcoming teleseminar as well as other resources for memoir writers can be found on the NAMW Web site.

About the National Association of Memoir Writers
The National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW) invites memoir writers from all over the world to connect, learn, and get inspired. The goal of our organization is to help memoir writers feel empowered with purpose and energy to begin and develop their life stories. For more information visit the Web site at www.namw.org or call toll-free 1-877-ememoir.
Company: The National Association of Memoir Writers
Contact Name: Linda Joy Myers
Contact Email: info@namw.org
Contact Phone: 1-877-363-6647

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