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Literary Fakes, the Personal Touch

Yesterday, I wrote about Ishmael Beah, the child soldier who wrote a book about his experiences and is now caught up in the oh so fun literary scandal of Did I Lie, Did I Not. Well, to add to the continual interest of this story, I got a post by Dan Chaon, the creative writing teaching of Beah who was quoted in the original article.

Dear Ben,

I don't usually do this but I am so annoyed that I have to write to you and your readers. I have written a letter to The Australian but I don't know whether they will publish it.

I was radically misquoted. I would have never used the term "poetic licence," for example. My position is that I would like to wait to hear what Ishmael himself has to say. There was never a good reason for him to "lie" about the facts. Is it more impressive that he was a child soldier for 2 years, or 2 months? Ultimately, what's the difference in the degree of suffering this kid endured? When he was writing this book, he didn't have any sense that it would become a bestseller, so what would be the point in inventing facts? And if he was lying, why would he be so stupid as to mix up major dates? That doesn't make sense.

It seems to me that you guys are awfully naive in accepting your Murdoch produced "news" as gospel. Hmmm. Do you think there might be an agenda in the decision to go after a third world author whose work is making people aware of human rights abuses in his country?

Something to think about.

Yours truly,

Dan Chaon
"The creative writing teacher"

Neat, hey?

Anyhow, I suppose, in a fashion, as regular readers here will know, my interest in literary fakes--proven or not--is one that I've had for a while, and which was, in actuality, one of the influences in writing 26lies, which is an autobiography that features a lot of information about literary fakes. My interest in this stuff then, is somewhat academic, as I have no investment in if Beah is proven to be true or not, and yesterday's post was written from that standpoint. However, I can well imagine that my half assed post on a story that I've taken no time to research, and which is taking its factual parts out of the Australian, would do well to cause upset to people involved. For that, I'll offer an apology, but it is more than likely that I will make some half assed commentary again on this blog, either about this topic in particular, or about another, and if you could keep in mind that it's not commentary aimed at the people, but the story, it'll be all nice and chilled and laid back. Or, perhaps not. I'm usually good either way.

In response to Chaon's last comment, however, about the Murdoch run conspiracy against Beah, I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass on that one. Since the story has come out in an Australian paper, I'm simply going to put it down to the country's fascination with finding literary fakes and then publicly bashing them for a while. We've a reasonable enough history of it, after all, though the time could perhaps be better spent exposing and knifing the politicians who lie to the country and then get caught out in, say, elections, but then we'd probably really be getting down to who has a choking hold over the media here.

Still, thank you for coming by and posting, Dan. It's appreciated.

If others are interested, there are replies by Beah himself and his publisher, here.


Dec. 15th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
DAN BLOOM, aka Danny Bloom, aka Dr. Spam Bot
Tis me. Danny Dan Daniel Bloom. Just don't call me Ishmael.

Thanks for posting this above, and sorry for the mis-spelled and typo-ridden emails. Some of them were Atomic Typos, ever heard of that term for proofreading? Look it up: atomic typo. I even have a blog devoted to it.

NOW to get serious. I was really really serious, and was talking about this book: "Angel the Fence" by Holocaust survivor Herman Rosenblat. Due to be published in USA in early February 2009, and also in Oz by HarperCollins Australia and in the UK by HarperCollins Thorsons Element.

The book is most likely a fraud, not a hoax per se, but a fraud. I really don't know the exact details, but I do believe someone is behind this old man, 80 now, manipulating him for reasons unknown. OPRAH has invited him on her show twice. There are emails all over the world about this man's love for his wife and how it all came to be. Google: "Herman Rosenblat" and you will see.

In a recent blog post, a noted Holocaust historian who believes the book is a fraud noted, just TODAY: "It is fairly certain that this is a
hoax. Historians are working on it. The facts will emerge shortly, and
for those who care about truth, it will not be a nice situation."

Here is the book cover, and here is his website.

Book website:


The book is not yet published. But the hype has been building for 10 years! Pub date is Feb. 3, 2009. But the publishers MIGHT have to recalll the book before it even gets released. See my news article below.