A Moment of Jen
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006
posted by Jen at 2/01/2006 04:14:00 PM

News and notes...

The IN HER SHOES DVD is in stores now (just $16.99 at Target!)

The New Yorker has posted some of Wendy Wassterstein's articles, including her hilarious and wrenching account of her pregnancy and her daughter's birth, which will probably make you cry.

Random House has posted James Frey's apology note for A MILLION LITTLE PIECES. It will probably not make you cry.

And the New York Observer has an interesting story -- one that's worth checking out for the artwork along -- about what the scandal means for the publishing community.

Amidst all the anonymous hand-wringing, it's hard to believe that the kind of minimal fact-checking that could have stopped a liar like Frey in his tracks is as onerous as the editors and publishers believe.

There's an old expression in journalism that goes, "Your mother says she loves you? Check it out."

Nobody's suggesting that Frey's mama doesn't love him (she did sit beside him on Larry King, doing everything but holding his hand), but if you're an editor or an agent, presented with a manuscript in which the protagonist boards a plane covered with a gaudy mixture of bodily fluids while bleeding from a hole in his face, would it not behoove you to ask your author to provide you with the name of the airline, or the name of a fellow passenger or two who might remember such a sight?

If he claims to have undergone root canals sans painkillers, how about asking for the dentist's phone number? And if he says he was in jail, surely there would be some record of his stay.

It's not fact-checking so much as reality checking. If something sounds too outrageous to be true, best to assume it's false, unless the author (and yes, the burden should be on the author) can show you otherwise.

Last but not least, on Saturday night I'll be speaking at the Connecticut Forum, along with Joyce Carol Oates and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr..

The official title of the event is "An Evening with our Favorite Writers." Around my house, it's known as "One of These Things is Not Like the Other."

It should be an interesting night. I'll report back on Monday.
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