This is a new one…

By Midge Raymond,

  Filed under: Events, News, On Reading

As readers of this blog know, I get a little cranky when I hear about memoirs that turn out to have been made up. Today’s NY Times has an interesting story about the Chilean writer Roberto Bolano, whose two recent novels (2666 and The Savage Detectives) are not in question but whose biography is.

Apparently Bolano, who died in 2003, was not into heroin, nor was he in Chile during the military coup that brought Pinochet to power, as he has claimed. And American critics and publishers are being taken to task for “deliberately distorting the writer’s past to fit him into the familiar mold of the tortured artist.”

It’s no secret that writers and publishers need to think about sales — and aside from the writing, it helps to have youth, beauty, or some other angle or platform that helps sell books. But when writers have to start re-creating their own personas to sell books, we might be taking things a little too far.

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  Comments: 1


  1. I share the distaste you express towards authors and publishers who go beyond “heating up the truth.” It is one thing to recreate dialogue that one cannot remember from decades earlier as long as it comports with the essential truth of the person(s) involved. I have read many memoirs lately where the truth has been overcooked, and I can taste the burnt lies with my eyes. Honest writers can’t help but wonder if telling the truth is the literary equivalent of running a race wearing leg weights.