Book News: Author Of Invented Holocaust Memoir Ordered To Return $22.5 Million
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Misha Defonseca, the author of a fabricated Holocaust memoir that describes her hunt for her missing parents, her adoption by wolves, and her killing of a Nazi soldier, has been ordered to pay back $22.5 million to her publisher. Defonseca – who was born Monique de Wael — was awarded the money after suing Mt. Ivy Press in a dispute over the book's profits, but she was later found to have lied about the events in Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years. She was not Jewish, as she claimed, and during the time she wrote that she lived with wolves, she was actually attending school in Belgium. In 2008, she said, "This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving."
- The regional government in Calabria, Italy, has approved a bill that would reduce prison sentences in exchange for reading books: For certain inmates, sentences would be cut three days per book. The bill will now go to the Italian Parliament. The bill was inspired by "Redemption Through Reading," a similar program that's been successful in Brazil's overcrowded prisons.
- On Sunday, Vogue published an excerpt from Hillary Clinton's upcoming memoir, Hard Choices. Writing about her mother, she says, "Mom measured her own life by how much she was able to help us and serve others. I knew that if she was still with us, she would be urging us to do the same. Never rest on your laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place. That's our unfinished business." Related: Casey N. Cep's essay for Politico about why political memoirs aren't worth reading.
- "Make no mistake. I frown upon books about creativity." So begins Creativity: The Perfect Crime by Philippe Petit, the French high-wire artist who walked a wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. This unconventional treatise is full of a stunning arrogance, but that is perhaps as it should be – tightrope walking between the Twin Towers is the ultimate act of arrogance, and the book makes a compelling case (not always on purpose) that a certain amount of arrogance may be a necessary part of creativity. In an interview with NPR's Arun Rath, Petit says, "I have not followed the right path. I have been expelled from five different school when I was a kid. And I learned basically all what I do by myself. So I have something to say that rarely is being said."
- In Josh Malerman's creepy horror novel Bird Box, Malorie and her two children haven't left the house in years, hiding out from a thing that, when seen, drives the viewer to crazed violence. Malorie decides to flee, and, blindfolded, she and her children sail down the river, followed all the while by the thing. This is Malerman's first novel (his day job is lead singer and guitarist for the band High Strung), but it's tightly written and full of an almost unbearable suspense.
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