Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Author and Her Word

A hoax: deception that seeks to criticize or comment on society, provoke thought, or provide humor. 
A fraud: deception for the financial or personal gain of an individual or a group.
JT LeRoy hoax: well-known literary hoax in which author Laura Albert wrote under the pseudonym JT LeRoy.  One of her fictional novels, Sarah, deals with gender, identity, abuse, and prostitution.  Seems interesting enough, but it gets better:  Laura needed an avatar for JT – a way for the “author” to exist in the real world.  Her solution was her sister-in-law, Savannah Knoop.  Laura, Savannah, and JT’s identities were eventually discovered.
Laura Albert and Savannah Knoop as JT LeRoy
Stephen Glass fraud: A former reporter for The New Republic, Glass fabricated more than half of his published stories in the 1990s.  “Hack Heaven,” an article which conveyed made-up characters and events as truth, raised suspicion regarding Glass’ accuracy and honesty.  Editor Charles Lane ultimately fired Glass after all his falsities were revealed. 
Stephen Glass

How significant is the author in relationship to his or her work and writing?  Should the author and the writing be intertwined, or should we keep them independent from one another? 
“A writer paradoxically seeks the truth and tells lies every step of the way” - Anne Lamott
In my opinion, in fiction the author and the writing should not be associated with each other. The words, the story, the lessons, and the sentiments do not change with the identity of the author.  A hoax like JT LeRoy’s is okay; these “lies” seek to tell a truth about a sub-community.

In news, however, the writer and the writing should most certainly be interconnected.  The writer has a responsibility to his readers and his identity and authority are imperative.  A fraud like Stephen Glass’ doesn’t seek to tell a truth, it hides it.  He was motivated by personal gain and merit.

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