First it was James Frey, a self-described alcoholic, drug addict and criminal, penning his “memoir” in graphic, gory language. Now, the latest writer to be villified and possibly, made rich if infamous is “JT LeRoy,” a supposed 25-year-old former male prostitute and drug addict, who apparently is a 40-year-old woman so desparate to get recognized that she would be willing to do just about anything, including assuming the personna of a drug addict/criminal just to sell a book.
Both Frey and LeRoy will become wealthyfamous. Doubtless, after making the talk-show circuit, they will profit from new lies to keep publishers chomping at the bit to sign them. Perhaps they will simply continue to profit from their existing lies –Frey has a movie deal coming up. The S0-called LeRoy has HBO movie scripts pending. How sad that we reward liars this way!
This latest “news” to hit the media’s radar screens has got me thinking about my own writing career. I write about relationships. There is nothing really new about people’s pain, except perhaps, new ways to look at the problem. A nasty boss in Brooklyn is as irritating as one in Bermuda. A meddling mother in Russia is as annoying as one in Rhode Island. Heartbreak in Houston feels just as excruiciating as heartbreak in Hong Kong!
How frustrating this all is! I am not the only writer on the planet who is just getting to the end of his or her rope, trying to sell books and having to deal with sensationalism and celebro-tainment taking nearly all the publishing budgets out there. I have often thought about what the magic formula is to becoming a celebrity author. It is true that some people do make it on their own with a blend of talent and luck, or luck and contacts. I have talent, but no contacts, and I can’t comment on the luck factor. All I know is that I was brought up to be honest and just. Even though I am increasingly aware that being a 50-something woman and telling honest truths about real subjects is a losing proposition, I would not ever lie or pretend to be someone else to make money. Some writers don’t care and alas, it appears that dishonesty, even crime , DOES pay. Do something nasty (for real) or just LIE well about it, or if you are over 50, pretend to be a 16-yaer old prostitute, and you will sell books.
What does it say about our society, when someone who helps people find love, success and happiness is a big yawn, but a miscreant gets noticed, signed, and rewarded? Apparently, if a writer wants to know that latest trend in publishing (it is Fashion Week in New York, after all) they should keep in mind that prostitutes, drug addicts and other criminals are the “new black” and being a good writer of important subjects that really confound people, is just “last season.” Agents keep saying that real life topics aren’t “fresh and novel” enough. If faux non-fiction and books by criminals the only things agents want to pitch, publishers want to print, and people want to read with their evening drinks, what hope is there for the rest of us?
By the way, this wasn’t written by Alison Blackman Dunham aka. Advice Sister Alison, it was really penned by Ima de-ceiver, a 17-year old axe murderer with a history of telling fibs.