". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Publishing Frauds

Yes, I know. There's another primarycaucus going on. The old white guy who doesn't like contraception is now the official rethug candidate, the old white guy who has bent over, genuflected, done whatever he can to suck up to the rethuggers no matter how it went against what he knows to be true in order to be The Man -- and that includes stating that torture isn't torture, and that torture does provide good info, despite his own 'honorable' incarceration as a tortured pow. Then there are the two non-insiders, the black guy and the white gal, and woohoohoo, since they are both corporatists. And really, we all know that this entire prez election nom wannbe is a television reality show to distract us during the time of the Writers Strike when there couldn't be any real tv created, and is the most expensive smokenmirrors video game ever played nationally. But nevermind.

I'm still interested in the publishing frauds perpetrated upon us by the 5 big trade publishers, with that faux gangbanger white sherman oaks private education gal pretensing she's a poc running drugs. Why, the primary medias all cry, wringing their hands and whinging.

This is why.

Because the editors know these memoirs are false. They don't care. They think you / me / wqe are too stupid or dumb to notice or to care. Don't fool yourself despite how much whinging they do and the non mea culpas. They know.

By the way, reading through the readers' comments in response to the The New York Times's exposure of the book is well worth doing. They call it all the way down the line, including the acquiring editor's close personal association with the Times which is how the book received so much attention in the first place -- all those dirty laundry ins-and-outs of the publishing industry overall, which includes, let us not forget magazines and newspapers and blogs and television and radio -- oh, yes, the 'memorist' was on the daily noon - 2 p.m. WNYC program last Friday, and ATC on NPR, etc. -- as well the offices of the big trade publishers. As well the readers draw attention to the single enviornment of mendacity in which we now live, from top down -- the DCclownfacegangofcriminalliars, the talk radio smears, the fake 'reality' television programming. Nobody can tell the difference between true and false, original and fake, original and plagerism, copyright and copyright infringement, illegal downloads and freeware, and moreover, nobody cares.

This (Wednesday) A.M. more non mea culpa, on behalf of the *NY Times, etc. --

Please note that in each instance of the frauds perpetrated via the publishing industry, each part of the primary media collaborated, i.e. went along with the fraud, i.e. here, in this story in the NY Times, the NY Times did a review, a feature, an interview with the author / about the book.

The reason is that nonfiction has more slots in the schedule than fiction does, has more means of promotion via television and talk radio etc., than fiction does, pays better than fiction, and thus is easier to get an agent to sell, and an editor and publisher to say yes. That's why they pretend it's a memoir rather than a novel.


Renegade Eye said...

In this case, the writer perpetuated every racist stereotype possible.

Foxessa said...

This need to play at being an outsider is just creepy.

Love, C.

K. said...

It is weird -- it seeks to attract readers by manipulating a fundamental insecurity. Incidentally, Walter Mosely's Fortunate Son is a brilliant treatment of the outsider issue, only from an honest perspective.

Audrey said...

I said it to you in my e mail this entire need to be other . . . it's maddening, and like k said it is a manipulation of a fundamental insecurity, but it's also thievery. You've got people like poc's Junot Diaz and Sapphire writing novels, that are clearly based on their lives, but they're not claiming they are memoirs because they know that they can't remember every word they ever said or everything that ever happened to them, and maybe there is more fiction to what they've written, so they don't feel comfortable claiming the nonfiction tag.

These are beautiful "other" stories, and I remember when they were being published and how there then was this run of "other" novels. Publishers were hungry for that and not interested in middle America, and if they were it was Prozac Nation or Bastard from Carolina (the latter of which was stunning to me)

But to merely write a novel about "other" without being "other"--unless you are a known quantity or know somebody big, it sits in the slush pile, subject to every bitter underpaid editorial assistant who ever had to vet manuscripts. So you steal an identity, throw in something to distinguish from the other other, and pretend to be that other person and tell your "true story". Not to mention what C. said about fewer slots for fiction in the publisher's schedule.

The whole thing is disgraceful and Nan Talese and the rest of them should be exiled from publishing forever for being so unethical and greedy

Foxessa said...

[ ... subject to every bitter underpaid editorial assistant who ever had to vet manuscripts. ]

In my case it was the editorial assistant / new editor who was excited about my ms. It was his boss, the Big Cheese, who decided NOPE, because, yanno, I wasn't in real life the central characters. Neither was she, of course. But during the short period she'd had the impression I was a poc, she was very excited about the novel.

Not that I provided the Big Cheese a picture of me as poc -- it was HER assumption, due to the material of the novel -- I was the one to set them all straight. And the deal, which was being set up with my agent went byebye, when the agent mentioned how impressed he was that a farm girl from North Dakota could write so well about this stuff.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

Anyway, the point of my little personal story isn't supposed to be that publishing was mean to me, it is how very honest and careful we all need to be.

Fiction is fiction. It isn't memoir. Fiction is about Making something, shaping it, forming it. Life doesn't work like that.

But sometimes I think, that since the rise of the novel in the 18th century, and then movies and television, we've come to believe that fiction IS life, or life is supposed to be fiction, that life, facts, information, truths, are all supposed to be manipulated the way a creator manipulates her material to create something new.

Love, C