Nonfiction’s Hall of Shame

August 30, 2012 § 2 Comments


Lee Gutkind has a new book, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, and an article post up on Huffington Post tied to a Hall of Fame of Literary Fabricators and Fakers.  The folks you expect to be there in the Hall of Fake Shame show up, such as James Frey and Herman Rosenblat, but there are a few you might not expect, including Lillian Hellman and the New Yorker‘s Alistair Reid.  Here is a brief excerpt followed by the link:

I love the first chapter of Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. It’s mostly about Bob Dylan, how he got inspired to write some of his songs, including “Like a Rolling Stone.” There’s one scene where he rips his notes into pieces and scatters them around the room in frustration. Very authentic, terrific stuff, and, unfortunately, as Lehrer recently admitted–untrue.

Why lie–especially about an American icon–information that can be easily verified or questioned?

Lehrer had a thesis to support about the spontaneity of creativity, and he wanted to tell a good story at the same time–which is what the creative nonfiction genre is all about. But style and substance sometimes don’t come together so easily–and so Lehrer took the easy road, which was also the low road…

Lee Gutkind’s Hall of Fame of Literary Fabricators and Fakers

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§ 2 Responses to Nonfiction’s Hall of Shame

  • Diann Martin says:

    Lee’s comments are excellent, why in the world would a noted author or even an obscure author fabricate an interaction with someone so high profile as Bob Dylan? It is sad for all concerned -this makes readers cynical and critical of non-fiction. If the stories we wish to tell are stretches of the truth, say so and publish accordingly. I appreciate this piece

  • Jane says:

    “Friction”…hate it. Gives us all a bad rap. Love the new book by the “godfather” of creative non-fiction, though.🙂

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