Yet another "fake writer" (to use Gawker's perfect phrase) has been unmasked. The latest case of "well, it's not literally true but I called it a memoir because it's MY truth" is Misha Defonseca Her story is highly entertaining. She didn't really escape from Nazis at the age of four and go live with wolves in the forest. She isn't really Jewish. But she felt Jewish.
I totally understand where she's coming from. This year when I did my taxes I felt poor. Sadly, the IRS doesn't agree with me.
Misha clearly mistook her calling. She's not meant to write memoirs. She needs to start writing intentional comedy. Lines like "I beg you to put yourself in my place, of a 4-year-old girl who was very lost" are comedy gold when you remember that the fake memoir in question was written by a 70 year old. Misha also helpfully points about after saying that "This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving" that sometimes she finds it "to differentiate between what was real and what was part of my imagination."
There's a name for that, dear. Crazy. Now crazy, I can understand, but stupid part of the equation, too. It's one thing to go around telling your insane story at the local synagogue where a general politeness might cause anyone to refrain from questioning the story of 4 year old who survives World War II by wandering the forests of Warsaw for 4 years. That just takes a complete lack of conscience. It's another to publish this insane story and assume you'll get the same level of sympathetic credulity. That takes complete stupidity in these post Binjamin Wilkomirski and James Frey days.
It's really very simple. If you write about how you underwent root canal without any anesthesia or survived the advanced stages of AIDs while being on the run from a band of pedophiles bent on revenge or evaded the Nazis (and one presumes, the Russians) for four years with only the street smarts and survivalist skills that can be acquired by the age of four, someone is going to ask "how did he/she do that?" Someone is very definitely going to call bullshit when you go around claiming that you survived a concentration camp at the age of 4, slept in a wolf pack in the Warsaw woods at age 4, or functioned as a total bad ass in and out of prison while sporting the kind of lisp guaranteed to inspire beat downs in high school locker rooms let alone in prison.
At least impostors are most entertaining that plagiarists. They bother to make something up, they just forget that when you do that it's called fiction. The only creativity a plagiarist provides is in their justifications. Cassie Edwards (read the full story here) claims she had no idea credit sources. This would be the part where I make a joke about how Cassie wouldn't like it if someone lifted portions of her novels and plopped it into their own romance novels except that after the controversy I tried to read one of her books. (In the aisles of the local library. I did try and thank God I was standing up. How do people stay conscious while reading Cassie's oeuvre?) Her books are horrible. Not "this is a bad romance novel horrible." Full-on, "I can't believe I'm reading this", "How the hell did this ever get published" horrible. I simply can't believe someone could be desperate enough to copy this undiluted horribleness and call it their own.
Then again, maybe this is how she avoids the Nora Roberts syndrome. Then again, maybe Cassie should consider taking her savage series to Warsaw circa 1940. I'll bet there were ferrets in the Warsaw woods too.