Welcome to Fame and Glory
Literary Fabricators: Monty Roberts, James Frey, et al.
Truth or Fiction: Does Anyone Know The Difference Anymore? Does Anyone Care?
It has to be related to television and the movies and even computer and video games. All that ‘virtual reality’ has people not knowing the difference between fact and fiction. Each new generation becomes further removed from the realities of life in general. Television shows and films take great license in portraying true events. What that really means is that a mere kernel, the gist of an idea or story, was based on a true event. Anything after that is complete fiction. But, people take it as a true story, nonetheless. (scroll to the bottom of this page for author fraud names)
Apparently the same thing is happening in the book world too. Someone wants to write an autobiography, but guess what? The facts just aren’t that interesting, after all. And publishers want extraordinarily interesting personal stories that will sell well.
MONTY ROBERTS, the so-called ‘horse whisperer’ who wrote what became a national best-seller called “The Man Who Listens to Horses” sits accused of writing reams and reams of fiction and passing it off as truth. Read another book, “Horse Whispers and Lies” (available from bookseller Amazon.com) by Debra Ann Ristau and Joyce Renebome, and you’ll get a whiff of the kinds and numbers of untruths that graced Mr. Roberts’ books. They are mammoth in nature.
In trying to cover his tracks, Mr. Roberts has alternately stuck by his stories, or changed certain names and events to jive with disputed facts. Some facts, for example, facts differ between his book published in America and the one published overseas. The disputed details surfacing in “Horse Whispers and Lies”, however, are so numerous that one must believe that the only thing true about Monty Roberts’ writings about himself are that he was born, he rode and trained horses, he had some dealings with the Queen of England (which he exaggerated) and that he is now lucky enough to own a very lush horse estate/training facility called Flag Is Up Farms, which he acquired through some very suspicious dealings.
Some people in the horse world who have become so enamored of Mr. Roberts have stated that they don’t care if everything he wrote was false, because his message about the humane treatment of horses is so valuable. This is a dangerously narrow-minded view that is detrimental to intelligent readers everywhere because it devalues the meaning of the word ‘nonfiction’ as non-invented or non-imagined subject matter.
It also sends the wrong message to children who might grow up and become writers themselves someday. It says that, in effect, lying is okay; facts and fiction are interchangeable, and absolutely everything must be overly dramatized to sell.
Jonathan Karp, a Random House editor said: “I think that nonfiction writers are doing it more and more. I was meeting a writer the other day and the writer said, ‘Hey, I invented some dialogue, is that all right?’ I said absolutely not. And the writer said ‘I really want it to be vivid, and I know these two people met. What’s the harm?’
It’s unethical, that’s the harm!
People like Monty Roberts, however, apparently don’t get it when it comes to ethics in writing. What they do get are large advances from publishing houses for authors willing to call their works ‘memoirs’ rather than fiction and heavy publicity, particularly in the form of highly coveted television interviews, which are far easier to procure when ‘true story’ is written across the cover. (article courtesy of HWL). Eyewitnesses have reported numerous accounts of falsehoods made by Monty Roberts related to his training of "never saddled horses". His book about the mustang "Shyboy" is filled with inaccuracies and Mr. Roberts was sued by the owners of one horse that he purposely injured in his quest for glory during the filming of a BBC documentary on the subject. His own photographer sued him for fraud. Another lawsuit was initiated when a mustang horse in Mr. Roberts' care for six months was returned to its owners without any training whatsoever, resulting in the near death of one of its owners.
Monty Roberts isn't the only one.
Here's a list of other well known literary fabricators:
MISHA DEFOESCA: Eleven years after the publication of her best-selling Holocaust memoir - a heartwarming tale of a small Jewish girl trekking across Europe and living with wolves - the Massachusetts author, a 71-year-old Belgian woman living outside Boston, yesterday admitted the whole story was a hoax. (Boston Globe / February 29, 2008). Related Links:
VIET DINH: The Bush-appointed former assistant attorney general and main author of the USA Patriot Act and revising the Attorney General's Guidelines, which govern federal law enforcement activities and national security investigations. He began his Jan. 11 speech at UC Irvine’s Beckman Center Auditorium by admitting, "I am a complete intellectual fraud." The controversial policy has turned the U.S. upside down with numerous people debating the legality of actions the government took in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Related Link: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x1524350
JAMES FREY: The man who famously defrauded Oprah Winfrey with his best-selling memoir, “A Million Little Pieces”. He later admitted that he had made up or exaggerated details in his account of his drug addiction and recovery.
Related Link: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0104061jamesfrey1.html
THOMAS KOHNSTAMM: Popular guide book giant Lonely Planet has suffered a severe blow to its credibility, with one of its authors admitting to plagiarising and making up huge slabs of his books. Thomas Kohnstamm, who worked on more than a dozen guide books for the publisher, has even admitted that he didn't visit one of the countries he wrote about, saying he worked on the book about Columbia from his US home.
MARGARET SELTZER/PSEUDONYM: MARGARET B. JONES: In “Love and Consequences,” a critically acclaimed memoir Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods. Fraud: She's all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. Riverhead Books, the unit of Penguin Group USA that published “Love and Consequences,” issued a recall for all copies of the book and canceled Ms. Seltzer’s book tour, which was scheduled to begin in Eugene, Ore., where she currently resides.
Related Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/books/04fake.html?_r=1
So, how do you Buy Your Way to Fame and Glory?: become a literary scam artist and fraud expert like the people above and people will be singing your praises. Maybe you'll get to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show like James Frey did BEFORE you find yourself on a site like this one.