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absolutewrite
07-31-2004, 10:40 AM
One of our readers just pointed me to info about Norma Khouri, who one of our writers interviewed last year. My head is spinning. Take a look at the interview and the new note I just put on top.

www.absolutewrite.com/nov...khouri.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/norma_khouri.htm)

My question is, if they should find it's fiction (and it certainly appears to be!), what kind of punishment would/should she get? I'm betting there was a clause in her contract saying the material was true...

bolshywoman
07-31-2004, 12:15 PM
Crikey dick.

She deserves to be sued by the publisher, or charged with obtaining money by a fraudulent document.

This sort of thing should not happen! It may raise doubts in some minds as to the veracity of other such memoirs. The saddest consequence, of course, is that many of those who were touched by her book and contributed towards the effort to rescue women from "honour" killings, may feel so used and disillusioned that they stop caring about what is still an all too real problem in many countries.

Sniff. Down with this sort of thing.

spooknov
07-31-2004, 07:22 PM
As a woman who has always believed in equality of rights, I am outraged that a fellow "women's rights" activist could ever concoct such atrocious, malignant behavior. She should be charged with fraud! And I agree the publisher will no doubt receive repercussions from would-be buyers, so hopefully they will sue her for misrepresentation.

It is sad to see those that feel the need to take advantage of such serious situations as "honour killings". And I am sure that by her disillusions, the women that are truly suffering will receive the worst consequences. Those that fight against the "honor killings" may feel misled and stop fighting for the women that cannot fight for themselves.

I hope she is brought to justice for this behavior. I don't know the laws in regards to a case like this, but IMO she should receive punishment.

mammamaia
07-31-2004, 08:16 PM
whoa!... major mess for random house, huh?... glad to see you put it right w/ your interview, jenna... at least you are far from alone in being scammed... what a terrible thing to do to all the REAL suffering women in the world!

HollyB
07-31-2004, 08:22 PM
Stolen from Publisher's Lunch, July 28:

______

Khouri May Call Conference Soon; Papers Find Multiple Court Cases in Chicago, Along with Allegations that She Was Being Sought By FBI When She Left America
Embattled author Norma Khouri has indicated through her Brisbane lawyer that she will call a press conference Friday or Saturday to present evidence to support the veracity of her book. The call to her attorney, however, came after she didn't appear for two meetings at the firm's office. Khouri and her two children have left their Bribie Island home in Queensland, Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald says Khouri has been unreachable by her Australian publisher, and alleges that she "fled" the country for the U.S.

A publicist hired by Khouri over the weekend quit by Monday, "after trying unsuccessfully to contact Khouri when the Herald published further evidence that the writer had been living in Chicago with her husband and children."

An additional investigation from The Australian found numerous court cases against the author in the United States. They say that her mother-in-law, Zoi Toliopoulos charged her with battery in 1998, but the case was dropped when Ms. Toliopoulos did not appear at trial. Another case seeking to recover rent allegedly due from Khouri was dropped when the plaintiff's lawyer was told she had left the country.

In a third case, Ms. Khouri's mother is said to have alleged that her daughter fraudently transferred ownership of a family home, which was then mortgaged. An attorney for a bank in that case said in an affidavit that her firm had been contacted by the FBI, claiming that the agency had been seeking Ms. Khouri for questioning, and that an agent said she had "fled the country in an effort to avoid prosecution." An FBI spokeswoman was looking into the reporter's query about the case.

The Chicago Sun Times repeats this account, saying she "May have feared the FBI more than Jordanian Muslims. It was not clear what the alleged fraud was, and an FBI spokesman could not confirm the probe."

_________

What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive...

I also read that both her US and Australian publishers have withdrawn her book.

maestrowork
07-31-2004, 08:59 PM
She will and should be charged with fraud.

Greenwolf103
07-31-2004, 11:39 PM
I agree that she should be punished for this fraud. It is sad that things like this can happen but what a relief it is that we now know the truth.

Khouri quote from AW interview:


Please remember that Dalia represents the millions of other women that are still struggling in Jordan.

If she wanted to write a book to speak out against these honor killings or to have some kind of perspective on this atrocity that is a very real horror, I think she should've approached this differently.

People will remember her more for her deceit than they will for the message she tried to convey.

Yeshanu
07-31-2004, 11:42 PM
If she wanted to write a book to speak out against these honor killings or to have some kind of perspective on this atrocity that is a very real horror, I think she should've approached this differently.

I agree, Dawn. The book, properly written as fiction, would have been on the bestseller lists for weeks.

What a shame that she would try and pass it off as non-fiction just so she could be in the book.

Jamesaritchie
07-31-2004, 11:55 PM
My guess is that nothing will happen to this woman, except maybe getting very rich. The controcersy should sell an awful lot of books.

There's nothing new in passing off fiction as nonfiction, especially when it could be nonfiction. Is it right? Probably not. Is it effective? Absolutely.

Just who would charge her with fraud? Random House? Only if they give back all the money they've made off this book.

The worst that will likely happen is that no one will trust anything she says from now on.

maestrowork
08-01-2004, 12:09 AM
Didn't someone say the publishers are already pulling her book? Also, it'd be naive to think Random House would continue to sell this for a profit -- they have their credibility to think of. Sure, they can remarket it as fiction instead of non-fiction, but I think it's not worth their troubles. They have so many other books and authors.

Jamesaritchie
08-01-2004, 02:28 AM
If Random House doesn't remartket the book, someone else will. They have to pull the book now because the cover says it's nonfiction. This doesn't mean they won;t remarket it, but as I said, if they don't, someone else almost certainly will.

Suree, there are lots of other books by other writers. Trouble is, four out of five of those books lose money for Random House, and only a tiny percentage generate any real profit.

If this book is any good, if it tells a story people want to read, it will be republished, and will make a lot of money for whoever does it.

I can even see a number of ways any good publicity department could use what's happened to generate a lot of positive publicity and huge sales.

If you're looking fdor morality and justice, the publishing world isn't where you're going to find it. It's about the money.

Fresie
08-01-2004, 02:44 AM
Another thing about it is, don't publishers have some sort of fact checkers or somebody? Especially for non-fiction. If women at the what's-its-name organization immediately saw it was a fake and that the author didn't know the country she was writing about, and warned the publishers (and I agree with James, probably at that point the publishers sensed that a big scandal also means big money), the publishers could've noticed it themselves had they taken care to check the facts.

And this author is just weird. A typical Jerry Springer Show character. And she got her ignorant book published! No justice in this life!!! :eek :lol

LiamJackson
08-01-2004, 03:16 AM
What should happen is swift litigation and designation as a literary pariah.

However, I'm afraid James R. may be right in that the only real misfortune that will befall her is that her suitcase won't be large enough to carry all that money to the bank.

absolutewrite
08-01-2004, 06:16 AM
One of the things I hate about cases like these is that it makes it even harder for the rest of us. I don't know about you, but since the Jayson Blair stuff, my editors have been even bigger pains in the butt about fact-checking material. I'm ALWAYS careful and detailed with my fact-checking stuff, but now I have to turn in even more "evidence" for every fact I write, no matter how obvious or minor. I'm crossing my fingers that McGraw-Hill doesn't start asking us to produce evidence that Jamie (the subject of my latest book) lived in Sweden, played pro basketball, had social anxiety disorder, etc.

nellfenwick
08-01-2004, 07:05 AM
I agree with all of you, but the sad fact is she'll most likely get off with little or no punishment. People forget so quickly! I just saw Doris Stearns Goodwin on Tim Russert's show today, giving her political insight, advice, etc. etc.

Wasn't it around two years ago that she was found to have plagiarized another author extensively? As I recall, she blamed it on too many researchers not checking their facts. Etc. Etc. It doesn't seem to have hurt her reputation at all.
Except maybe for those of us who value integrity.

:b :b

reph
08-01-2004, 07:06 AM
Khouri sounds like another Melanie Mills.

aka eraser
08-01-2004, 07:41 AM
Jenna if my experience with M-H is typical you can expect to be fact-checked up the wahzoo. I had to satisfy 2 in-house experts and 2 hired guns, each of whom did line-by-line edits of my ms.

Greenwolf103
08-01-2004, 10:02 AM
What, are they sending fish wrapped in newspaper now?

"Hired guns" sounds awful scary, Frank! :gone

absolutewrite
08-01-2004, 04:37 PM
Boy oh boy. What did you have to prove? That fish really do think worms are tasty? ("Please have two expert fish nutritionists verify that statement.")

James D Macdonald
08-01-2004, 05:42 PM
1) There's usually a clause in the publishing contract called "author's waranties" or something similar. I expect that's what's been violated.

2) Remember that "non-fiction" is a publishing category, not the publisher's assurance that every word is true.

3) This isn't the first or only time such a thing has happened.

Yeshanu
08-01-2004, 05:49 PM
Just saw Troy last night and realized that fiction has been marketed as non-fiction for as long as human beings have been writing (or perhaps longer...)

James said:


The controcersy should sell an awful lot of books.

I'm only one person and I can't do much, but I can do something. I might have bought the book had it been marketed as fiction, or if it had actually been true, I won't buy it now.

(Oh, and James -- glad to see you've progressed from "New Friend" to "Board Elder.")

maestrowork
08-01-2004, 09:58 PM
I agree with Ruth. Maybe "that's just how it is..." but as a writer, I'm going to call for us to boycott the book. I mean, we have to have integrity. Otherwise, every other writer would try to pull a stunt like that because they know it's easy to break into the non-fiction market than fiction...

Jamesaritchie
08-01-2004, 10:31 PM
Writers try this stunt on a regular basis. They're usually caught sooner or later. Sometimes much, much later. Often after they're dead.

I'm big on my own integrity, not so big on that of anyone else. I think Random House can handle the situation without me.

Right now I have no intention of buying the book, but boycotts are something I don't need, and something that usually promotes sales, rather than inhibiting them.

As they say, if you ever want to get rich from a book, find a way to get it banned or boycotted.

Greenwolf103
08-01-2004, 10:42 PM
The story itself has me interested. (I've read similar "true story" books -- and I say "true story" because they were marketed as nonfiction.) I am grateful I can now approach this book with the knowledge that it is not true but, in some way, represents the truth (what is really happening).

All nonfiction books should be read with a grain of salt. Look at Chariot of the Gods? by Erich Von Daniken. It's labeled nonfiction but I didn't believe a single word of it. (It actually had me laughing too hard to even think it might be true.) The author's "artifacts" were later exposed as a fake. He even admitted they were fakes. Guess no one can ever really know if something is true unless the author gets caught.

Oh, and I won't buy the book. I'll just check it out at the library. :)

nolabohemian
08-02-2004, 02:49 AM
The book was being sold on amazon.com. They use the US Postal Service to ship orders, so her claims in the book, and requests for aid for the women of Jordan, could be considered mail fraud and a federal crime.

Hopefully, someone will follow up on that.

One of the articles said the books were being pulled and relabled as fiction. I just hope, if anymore are sold, she doesn't get a dime for them. It should all go to the people she was claiming to help.

Yeshanu
08-02-2004, 05:51 AM
Right now I have no intention of buying the book, but boycotts are something I don't need, and something that usually promotes sales, rather than inhibiting them.

I agree with you there, James. I wasn't talking about an organized boycott (with sales-boosting press releases), but simply saying that I will not buy this book. And if Ray or others want to join me, that's fine. As you say, our own personal integrity is all, and for the good of my own personal integrity (and to avoid rewarding her for her deception) I choose not to participate in fraud.

I didn't realize that she was soliciting donations in the book, but if she is, then nolabohemian is probably right on. She should be prosecuted. Has anyone checked where those funds are actually going?

Greenwolf103
08-02-2004, 06:53 AM
Good point. Keep in mind she has a history of swindling money.

maestrowork
08-02-2004, 07:05 AM
If she's soliciting donation, then it's a whole different matter. That's fraud.

Jules Hall
08-02-2004, 09:04 PM
That's hard to say, actually. There almost certainly are people with similar stories to the one told -- in fact, from all we know this _may_ be a true story except for one detail: the author's personal involvement.

And even if it isn't true, I don't think it would be fraud unless any money donated is not used for the purposes you would expect such a donation to be used for. It doesn't matter if the story used to persuade people to donate isn't true, as long as it is representative of things that really do happen, and I'm pretty sure it is (I've sat in the public gallery during court cases here in the UK where women have been severely beaten over this kind of thing, and one where a man was hit several times with a long metal bar in the middle of rush-hour traffic, so I don't find the story as summarised on the page Jenna linked to difficult to believe at all).

Lori Basiewicz
08-02-2004, 09:49 PM
I'll admit it. After reading the interview in the AW newsletter when it first appeared, I purchased the book. It was a very powerful read. More so because it was supposed to be true. I woke up the other morning and heard the allegations on NPR and was more than a little disgusted. There are women in this world who have endured and escaped from these restrictive societies. I have a very dear friend who was smuggled out of Iran because she was in danger due to her religious beliefs. The fact that this book turns out to be a sham is belittling to the women who really have escaped those situations. Or so I feel.

On my recommendation, my mother borrowed this for a plane trip. She accidentally spilled Diet Pepsi on it when the flight encountered a little turbulence. I must remember to tell her she no longer needs to feel bad about that.

The funny thing is, I keep my fiction and non-fiction books on different bookshelves. When I originally put this one away, I put it on the fiction bookshelf instead of the non-fiction. I thought it was a mistake. Guess not.

maestrowork
08-02-2004, 10:29 PM
The reality is probably true that she would not suffer from it. Probably makes tons of money because of the publicity.

My view is that we writers should know better to support such authors and their books. We can't condone this kind of behavior, whether or not it's a reality in the publishing world. If we say, "oh well, s*** happens and deal with it" then it belittles every writer who tries to do the right thing and also, like Lori said, the women who actually went through that, but didn't have the opportunity to tell their true stories (not to mention not making $$$).

Greenwolf103
08-02-2004, 10:34 PM
I keep my fiction and non-fiction books on different bookshelves.

Lori: So do I! http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/images/smilies/mghighfive.gif

Jamesaritchie
08-02-2004, 11:46 PM
While I don't approve of her tactics in any way, this is a story that could help a great many people. The book isn't fact, but it is true, just as all good fiction is true.

The mistake here was labelling this book as fact, rather than fiction. Not a good thing, but not exactly a hanging offense, either.

I have no problem at all with this book being reissued as fiction, and if the story is as powerful as everyone says, I hope it sells a great many copies. It really could help some people, and could entertain many others.

CNN has been caught telling lies, and withholding important information. I find this much more reprehensible.

I don't really trust CNN these days, and I doubt I'd easily trust this writer if she writes anything else and labels it nonfiction. But I'm not going to hang her, and if she wants to write fiction, I'll give it the same chance I'd give any other fiction.

And should this book be reissued as fiction, I'll give it the same chance I'd give any other novel. I'm interested in the novel, not the writer.

Yeshanu
08-03-2004, 12:00 AM
The mistake here was labelling this book as fact, rather than fiction.

James,

I hasten to disagree. Labelling the book as fact and not fiction might have been a mistake on the part of the publisher (and I don't intend to punish Random House for the mistake, since they've pulled the book) but it was a deliberate lie on the part of the writer, who knew from the beginning she was writing fiction, not fact.

It makes all the difference in the world. And now that the lie's been exposed, it has the potential to discredit a whole movement...

The book may be fiction, but because it began as a lie, it's not good fiction and it has no truth. I'd read another fiction book on the same subject by a different writer, but I won't read hers. She lies, and has lost my trust.

As for the money being used to help the victims, it may or may not be actually going to the purpose for which it was intended, but it was obtained by fraudulent means.

It's still fraud.

Or:

The end does not (ever) justify the means.

Jamesaritchie
08-03-2004, 01:26 AM
No, the end never justifies the means. But I'm still not going to make an outcast of this writer for doing something wrong. And you give way the heck too much power to this book. Look around. It has already generated much positie sttention to the subject. Far from discrediting the movement, many are now involved who wouldn't have been otherwise.

No, the end doesn't justify the means, but let he without sin cast the first stone, and give people some credit for being able to tell this book from the movement.

Was it fraud? Yes, it was. So? All this means to me is that I won't trust this writer to write nonfiction again. It does not in any way mean I'm going to write this person off.

And I don't care how this book began, it's still teh same book and still has the same message and is still written the same way. And my guess is that 99% of those who may eventually read it won't have a clue to its origins, and won't care.

Random House almost certainly has the power to make her pay back any money the book earned as nonfiction, if they so choose. Maybe they should. But if you discredit every novel out there because the writer is a liar, even where things in the book are concerned, you won't have much to read. History is full of nonfiction books we now know the writers lied about, first page to last.

But in the end it's real simple. If you don't want to read the book as a novel, you don't buy it or read it. Those who want to should certainly have equal freedom. You may think this won't be good fiction, others may think it's wonderful fiction, and it may make dramatic changes in their lives.

As I said, I won't trust this writer to write nonfiction for a good long while, but it isn't my job to make her an outcast, to make her book an outcast, or to condemn
outside of saying I won't trust her to write nonfiction again without something happening to let her regain my trust.

But this book has just as much right to be published as fiction as any other book, and this writer has just as much right be be a novelist as you or me or anyone else. We all do dumb, stupid things on occasion. We almost certainly all break the law at some point. Most of us even tell deliberate lies now and then. We all have feet of clay.

I've found that in the long run, in one way or another, punishment tends to work itself out, and people tend to pay for their transgressions, all without any help from me. I'd prefer to give this writer another chance, just as I've needed a second chance many times, and to just move on from here with a clean slate for all concerned.

maestrowork
08-03-2004, 03:39 AM
James, I think you're in the minority here.

There's something called Ethics in this world. And many people value that.

Lori Basiewicz
08-03-2004, 05:33 AM
it's still teh same book and still has the same message and is still written the same way.

But it's not the same book or the same message, James. Before, it was a cry for help for women. Now, who can trust anything that is said in it? The conditions, as described, may not exist in the country in question. Personally, I have no way of knowing.

Tish Davidson
08-03-2004, 06:00 AM
Jules wrote"
It doesn't matter if the story used to persuade people to donate isn't true, as long as it is representative of things that really do happen

As a nonfiction writer and former journalist, I am offended by this attitude. I understand that there is no such thing as completely true and objective nonfiction and journalism. Just the selection of material and its presentation slants the writing. However, for me the emotional connection to nonfiction happens because it is true - or as true as the author can make it. This attitude that it doesn't matter as long as it is representatitve is what makes certain journalists (think Jayson Blair) to manufacture stories and quotes. People can write about other people's experience as representative and still write non-fiction -- its called research-- but they can't just manufacture people and situations and call it nonfiction because it is representative or typical of the point they want to illustrate.

Would this book been published as fiction? Who knows. But I am amazed that it got past the fact checking and legal department of Random House. The 3 non-fiction books I have published with Scholastic have been fact-checked to death. I was sent a list of specific questions and asked to produce the research to back up certain statements with research - and these books were not even on controvertial subjects. Memoir is a little different. I think everyone understands that memoir is less ojective, less researched , and more based on memory, but how could a major publisher miss the fact that this author had not lived in the country she was writing about since she was three years old?

Yeshanu
08-03-2004, 06:01 AM
When my brother was nineteen and I was twenty-one, my parents went away for a week, and I was left to hold the fort.

One evening, my brother asked for the car keys. I said no. He took the keys anyway.

At 1:00 a.m. the next morning, I got a call from the police, who wanted me to come and pick up my brother. He'd been arrested for drinking and driving, and the car had been impounded.

Twenty-three years later, I will still not allow my brother to have the car keys.

Trust and reputation are painstakingly built, and very easily destroyed. Once destroyed, they can never be restored to pristine form.

Norma Khouri's reputation as a writer of non-fiction is shattered. She can try and salvage it, but I'll always notice the duct tape. She can beg for forgiveness, and if remorse is shown and restitution is made, the readers she has betrayed may even give her that forgiveness. But we'll always be a little on our guard.

The problem is not simply that she has told one lie and been caught out. The problem is systemic. If journalists and non-fiction writers start telling lies, who can we trust? The stories in the New York Times will be as suspect as those printed in the Weekly World News. Book buyers will begin to believe that all the sensational stories that writers tell are fiction, calculated only to sell books.

Certainly, there is a segment of the population who will buy the books nonetheless. Some will buy them because of the controversy, and some will buy them because even though the story is a lie, it still could be true, couldn't it?

There are also people who believe the stories about two-headed aliens and the return of Elvis that the tabloids print. There are people who believe that buying $20 worth of lottery tickets every week is good financial planning.

It's a slippery slope you seem to be advocating, James.

Yes, there are women out there who are living under horrendous conditions. But misinformation about the Arab world and Islam are widespread in North America today, and telling a lie of this magnitude (and a lie that is believed by thousands, if not millions of people is a huge one) only add fuel to that misunderstanding. Now that I know the story is fiction, and not fact as she has represented it, I want to ask, "What other lies has she told me? Is she lying only about her part in the story, or is she lying about a whole culture?"

I simply cannot trust her ever again, and I don't feel anyone else should, either.

One last thing:

The biblical reference to casting stones is not appropriate here. Jesus was condemning state-sanctioned murder of one person involved in a crime (the woman) while the other was not even chastised.

I do not condone state-sanctioned (or any other) murder for any crime, and I don't condone one-sided justice.

This case doesn't fall into either category, and Jesus was not one to remain quiet when sin did occur. He told the woman, "Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."

So say I to Norma Khouri, and all who would tell outright lies for profit.

:peace Ruth

Greenwolf103
08-03-2004, 06:52 AM
There are some things that cannot be so easily forgiven.

Ruth's point about that reference is sound. We writers of nonfiction with any ounce of ethics are not going to write a lie and market it as the truth. A statement like that says that any one of us could be guilty of doing the same thing. If we are, it is only by accident. Unless there IS someone willfuly doing so...

This author knew what she was doing. She knew her story was a lie.

Also true about the points made on something representing something that is true. I mean, look at the TV show Law & Order. They do episodes that represent something really going on all the time, but it's fiction. And we know it is fiction.

absolutewrite
08-03-2004, 04:30 PM
James A., now you have me fascinated. I'm really surprised by the point you're making, and I'm just looking for clarification-- somewhere you said you don't care about the writer, you care about the book. Is there any limit on that for you? (I'm not asking this to judge you in any way; I'm really just curious.) Meaning, if a child molester wrote a novel and was profiting from it, as long as it was good, you'd buy it?

I dunno... I do see Khouri's transgression as a major one. I see that she used other people's suffering as a way to make herself a profit by playing on sympathies and passing herself off as this very brave refugee whose best friend was murdered... to the point of denying her own children and husband in public. This, more than the book itself, is what drew publicity-- the fact that she swore she'd be killed for publishing this book if people in her home country found her.

To me, turning the other cheek and letting her put out another novel is like handing a license back to that surgeon who carved his initals on someone's body. He probably never would do it again... but does he deserve a place next to the surgeons who took their profession seriously?

James D Macdonald
08-03-2004, 05:42 PM
On the character of authors:

What do we say about books by "anonymous"?

Do we know who lurks behind every pseudonym?

How does everyone feel about Le Morte D'Arthur (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1844030016/ref=nosim/madhousemanor) by Sir Thomas Malory, who was in jail for raping nuns at the time he wrote it?

The difference between fiction and non-fiction is that in fiction we tell our own lies.

Yeshanu
08-03-2004, 09:36 PM
The difference between fiction and non-fiction is that in fiction we tell our own lies.

And we tell people that it's lies we're telling them...

If I read a book labelled "non-fiction," I expect it to have some basis in fact.

Sir Thomas Mallory did not write a book explaining how he saved a bunch of nuns from persectution. He wrote fiction and it was labelled as such. And he didn't live in a time and place where sensationalism netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Molesting nuns is wrong, and he deserved to be jailed for it. But it had nothing to do with his credibility as a writer. For that reason, I would never trust him in a convent full of nuns, but I might read what he wrote, especially since he's not getting paid for it any more.

Norma, on the other hand, has proven herself untrustworthy specifically in the writing arena. If something else under her byline is published and called "non-fiction," I'd have a very hard time believing in the truth of it, and I wouldn't pay money to read it.

evanaharris
08-04-2004, 12:20 AM
The biblical reference to casting stones is not appropriate here. Jesus was condemning state-sanctioned murder of one person involved in a crime (the woman) while the other was not even chastised.

To be fair, it was God-sanctioned murder, as they were following Jewish law.

I think the point still stands. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I do not know the author's motives. Perhaps she simply wanted to bring light to the plight of these women, in the most effective way possible. Perhaps she just wanted to make a quick buck.

Either way, I think people on here calling for her head (federal mail fraud? the hell?) are just as bad as she is, perhaps even worse.

I side with James on this. My personal integrity is more important than anyone else's. And the book stands alone.

If you don't like the book, don't buy the book. But don't get self-righteous about it.


But misinformation about the Arab world and Islam are widespread in North America today, and telling a lie of this magnitude (and a lie that is believed by thousands, if not millions of people is a huge one) only add fuel to that misunderstanding.

And just how much of her book is misinformation? Did she take real-life accounts and insert herself into them? Are the accounts made up but largely based on factual occurences? Is the book representative of the problems of women in the Areab world?

As far as I can tell, the only problem so far is that she put herself into it, and passed it off as fact.

My goodness you're a bloodthirsty lot....

Lori Basiewicz
08-04-2004, 12:39 AM
Evan, have you read the book? I have. It is presented as a factual, first-hand account of things she herself experienced.

And the thing is, my point is, I have no way of knowing whether she used any factual evidence in constructing this fiction. And, since she has already deceived me once, I am very unlikely to believe anything she says regarding the matter now without hard and fast evidence.

maestrowork
08-04-2004, 01:49 AM
So if I dream up some really powerful, great story (murder, rape, molestation, war, trauma, etc.) and call it my true story -- a memoir, it is okay?

What's next? Star Wars: the true heroes? Mystic River: a true story? Bone Collector: the true horror!

It's not about being "self-righteous." It's about ethics. If every writer thinks he/she can throw away ethics and just do whatever he/she wants to sell books, we -- collectively -- are in trouble. Nobody would believe anything a non-fiction writer (journalists, etc.) say or print. Let's just throw our credibility out the window right now.

I know, I'm going to write about the time when I was raped at 8 by a Catholic priest and later he killed my entire family before I escaped China right after the Tiananmen Square incident. I bet it will sell lots of books if I call it a real story. Why not? If only I don't get caught, right?....

evanaharris
08-04-2004, 09:51 AM
Lori, no, i haven't, which is why I'm speaking strictly from a devil's advocate point of view.

What James (and I, to a lesser extent) are arguing is that as writers, the only thing the author should be judged on is the *work*. The *book*.

Is it a good *book*?

And as for you not knowing whether it's fact or fiction, that's what your brain is for. Critical thinking skills. If you take one person's view on anything at face value, you're already in the wrong boat. Buyer beware.

Now, as a non-writer, sure, I think it's reprehensible, if there wasn't some grand over-arching reason behind it. But as a writer, if the book is good, I don't care if it's fiction labeled as fact or fact labeled as fiction.

The vast amount of people in America are so used to being spoon-fed every thing they consume. They don't care to dig a few layers beneath the surface. A good majority of you are pissed because you feel like you've been tricked. The problem is, you're angry at the wrong person--you've only got yourself to blame if you took her on her word--and only her word--on the subject.

I've got no sympathies. At all.

Tish Davidson
08-04-2004, 10:13 AM
Then, if I understand you right, evana, you are arguing that there should be no fiction/nonfiction categories. Writers should simply write what they want and let the reader beware.

evanaharris
08-04-2004, 10:45 AM
To a certain extent, yes.

I'm arguing that there should be no fiction/nonfiction categories in people's heads.

People are too damned gullible, and if they take everything they read at face value, then they deserve to be fooled and tricked and bamboozled.

I (probably) could've read the book and thought: You know what, this woman's right. Muslim women in Arab countries are being oppressed. I ought to donate to a particular cause, like the Muslim Women's Liberation Fund, and help them out.

She told a good story, and her sales were probably helped by the fact that she passed it off as non-fiction. I don't know about anybody else, but just because a book's revealed as simply not being so doesn't make it any less a literary experience. And if it's a GOOD STORY, if it's good writing, then whether it's based on fact or not doesn't matter.

maestrowork
08-04-2004, 11:19 AM
People may be gullible, but as writers, we shouldn't exploit that.

You're still missing the point. If Norma had marketed her book as fiction, it would be a non-issue. The fact is she called it a true story -- specifically, HER story. The book is not only judged by the writing skills and story, it is also judged by the "facts" which is why it was "non-fiction." Standards and code of conducts are very different.

I would judge a book called "9/11 Commission Report" differently than a book called "9/11 The Day After Tomorrow -- the Novel."

Tish Davidson
08-04-2004, 11:55 AM
I'm guessing that evanaharris is under thirty.

Euan Harvey
08-04-2004, 06:09 PM
>People are too damned gullible, and if they take everything they read at face value, then they deserve to be fooled and tricked and bamboozled.

This idea was dissected at length in the Bewares and Background Check board in a post on Publish America. I'm not going to go into it here, but the consensus was the people's gullibility is not a reason to excuse scammers or con-artists.

Essentially, the author lied. Now the question is simply this: is lying about what she lied about acceptable or not?

I, and I imagine most people, would say no.

[And yes, writing fiction can be characterized as telling lies, but it's telling lies with the intent to entertain, not to deceive]

>I don't know about anybody else, but just because a book's revealed as simply not being so doesn't make it any less a literary experience.

I don't know if this is true. Are you saying that Schindler's List would be equally powerful if the Holocaust had never happened?

Anyway, my 2c,

Cheers,

Euan

Yeshanu
08-04-2004, 07:48 PM
Euan,

:clap Well said!

I want to go back to the "persoanl responsibility" issue that folks have raised.

Specifically, I seem to be hearing that folks think that it's her business if she tries to defraud the public, but it's not their place to pass judgement.

Folks, where you spend your money and what you spend it on is just as much your personal responsibility as what you write. If you buy this book knowing it's fiction that has been knowingly mis-labelled as non-fiction, you're rewarding both the writer and the publisher for defrauding the public. (And yes, this counts as fraud in my opinion,) You become an accomplice to the crime.

As for the complaint that we're being to harsh -- all I'm asking is that she have her day in court to have the authorities judge her. That isn't harsh -- it's justice. (I would hope...) If she's guilty of fraud as defined by the legal code, she should pay.

I find it incredible that amongst Kouhri's most faithful defenders on this board are two much-published authors who I admire. I've enjoyed what you've had to say on the process of writing, but I need to tell you that the day you publish a novel and call it non-fiction is the same day you totally lose my respect and my patronage. Please don't take this as a threat. It's just that the issue is important to me, because if we start mis-labelling fiction as non-fiction (as was done in past eras), society as we know it (with laws and customs that are based on science instead of superstition) will end.

Think a little about that. It would make a great sci-fi novel about a dystopia I wouldn't want to live in.

evanaharris
08-04-2004, 11:12 PM
Maestro: People may be gullible, but as writers, we shouldn't exploit that.

I never said anything of the sort. I even said I found it reprehensible.


You're still missing the point. If Norma had marketed her book as fiction, it would be a non-issue.

You're missing the point. If the readers had taken a few moments and thought that it may or may not be true, it would be a non-issue.



Euan:
I'm not going to go into it here, but the consensus was the people's gullibility is not a reason to excuse scammers or con-artists.

I'm not saying it is, either. What I am saying is that people feel far too little shame for falling for this type of thing. You trusted a single source on a very important issue, as far as I can tell you had it coming from day one.

Contrary to what everyone might believe, people are under no obligation to tell you the truth.



Essentially, the author lied. Now the question is simply this: is lying about what she lied about acceptable or not?

Well, and this is where I wish I had read the book, cause angling around it's impossible.

The question I put to you is: What did she lie about? And then we'll see if what she lied about is acceptable.


[And yes, writing fiction can be characterized as telling lies, but it's telling lies with the intent to entertain, not to deceive]

Agreed, which is why I haven't brought that up.


I don't know if this is true. Are you saying that Schindler's List would be equally powerful if the Holocaust had never happened?

Sure, and why not. I don't think we're told everything about the holocaust in the movie, beyond what's needed to understand the story (it's accepted that everyone knows a little bit about the Holocaust.) But the important bits are still there: A man named Hitler is killing all the Jews, and one man is trying to do his part to stop that. Now, I might get an extra chill up my spine thinking: "This really happened," but if it's a good enough movie (and it's been a while since I've seen Schindler's List, but I think it is,) then it will stand alone. From what I hear, I daresay that Ms. Khouri's writing probably does.


Tish: I'm guessing that evanaharris is under thirty.

I am, yes. 19 years and some odd months.

Do you feel better about yourself, now?

And with that, I'll respectfully drop out of the conversation as (I noted above), I haven't read the book. If you'd like to continue this via PM, I'd be happy to.

Greenwolf103
08-05-2004, 12:33 AM
NO, WE DID NOT HAVE THIS COMING!!

We trusted that this book was TRUE, because it was sold as NONFICTION!!

We trusted this writer that she was telling us a TRUE STORY. Because she said it was and the publisher published it as NONFICTION!!

We are not mad because we've been duped; we are mad because she intentionally deceived the reading public.

HConn
08-05-2004, 02:11 AM
Contrary to what everyone might believe, people are under no obligation to tell you the truth.

That's wrong.

There are laws concerning truth in advertising. There are contractual obligations for writers who claim that their books are non-fiction.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 02:34 AM
That's wrong.

There are laws concerning truth in advertising. There are contractual obligations for writers who claim that their books are non-fiction.

So everyone always tells the WHOLE truth if they're required to? Advertisers don't leave out specific information that might keep you from buying their products? Authors don't leave out specific information that might keep you from accepting their arguments?

Lori Basiewicz
08-05-2004, 02:42 AM
Evan, this book wasn't a lie of omission or a misrepresentation of the facts. It was a lie. Bald-faced and blatant.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 03:17 AM
Lori,

I'm afraid I'm going to have to withhold that judgement either way until I read the book. Wouldn't want to take only your word on the matter ;)

HConn
08-05-2004, 06:20 AM
So everyone always tells the WHOLE truth if they're required to? Advertisers don't leave out specific information that might keep you from buying their products? Authors don't leave out specific information that might keep you from accepting their arguments?

I know you think you're making cogent points here, but your arguments are specious and irrelevant.

Can't you see the difference between telling people only positive things about yourself and telling them things that are factually untrue?

Euan Harvey
08-05-2004, 06:39 AM
>You trusted a single source on a very important issue, as far as I can tell you had it coming from day one.

I'm going to assume that these are generic 'you's and not directed at me personally. :)

>The question I put to you is: What did she lie about? And then we'll see if what she lied about is acceptable.

From a report in the Guardian online:

"Far from being a Jordanian who fled her home in the late 1990s after the "honour" killing of her best friend, Khouri is accused of being an American passport-holder who lived in Chicago from the age of three."

"The book says that Dalia, a Muslim became friends with Khouri, a Catholic, and went on to start a hairdressing business, where, in 1990, she met a client called Michael, a Christian army officer.

Chaperoned by Khouri, Michael and Dalia carried on a chaste and clandestine liaison, but after months of surveillance by Dalia's brother they were seen holding hands. Retribution was inevitable.

According to the book, Khouri's denunciations of what happened put her life in danger. She fled the country and wrote up her account in an Athens internet cafe, before finally finding safety as a refugee in rural Australia.

After an 18-month investigation, the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that Khouri has a Greek-American husband, two adolescent children, and a family in Chicago who have heard little about her in years."

So that's what she lied about. Is that acceptable? I say no. You may think differently.

>I might get an extra chill up my spine thinking: "This really happened," but if it's a good enough movie (and it's been a while since I've seen Schindler's List, but I think it is,) then it will stand alone.

The question is not whether the movie would stand alone without the historical background. You said that:

"... just because a book's revealed as simply not being so doesn't make it any less a literary experience."

Which I don't think is true. The question is not whether 'Schindler's List' stands alone; the question is does the fact the six million plus people died in the Holocaust make Schindler's List more powerful as a movie? In other words, if we were somehow to find out that the Holocaust had never happened*, would that reduce the imapct of the movie?

And I think the answer is that of course it would. I note that you imply you agree with me when you say "I might get an extra chill up my spine" thinking it really happened. That's the whole point I'm trying to make -- part (at least) of the power of Schindler's List derives from the fact that it is based on something that really happened.


Cheers,

Euan


*In no way am I suggesting that the Holocaust did not actually happen. Revisionism applied to the Holocaust is disgraceful.

maestrowork
08-05-2004, 07:26 AM
So everyone always tells the WHOLE truth if they're required to? Advertisers don't leave out specific information that might keep you from buying their products? Authors don't leave out specific information that might keep you from accepting their arguments?

Leaving out information is different than presenting something as truth when you KNOW it is not. If you advertise a Big Mac as a wholesome, low carb, low fat, healthy choice diet food, you probably have broken the law somewhere. Now if you simply say, a Big Mac is delicious and not as bad as six donuts... then you're not lying -- omission of facts is not the same as lying.

The author of that book lied. Plain and simple. She presented something as true -- her life story -- when it's fiction. It didn't happen. When she signed that contract with Random House, it was for a non-fiction book. She has violated the contract, and should be punished for it, in my opinion.

When she signed that non-fiction contract, she agreed to abide by the rule that everything in that book should be true to the best of her knowlege. The fact is she lied knowingly and willingly to deceive both the publisher and the public. There's nothing right about it.

Even if the laws are not involved, Evan, please understand this word: ETHICS. There's a reason why publishers and writers try to abide by it.

maestrowork
08-05-2004, 07:36 AM
A better analogy is "Fahrenheit 911." Many people dispute that it's not true, and that it should not be categorized as a "documentary." A documentary, by definition, is a film made of facts (even though the filmmaker may put a spin on things). Moore insists that everything in the film is true to his best knowledge, and he has hired and used many fact checkers to back up his claims. You can say something about his agenda or spins... the thing is, not one person in the film has filed a suit against Moore for libel or whatever -- not even President Bush. One can still be skeptical about if Moore has presented the truth, but the verdict, at this point, is that he has (with a big dose of personal spin on the artifacts such as video clips, document excerpts, etc.) He was very clear when marketing the film that it was an "op-ed" piece based on facts.

However, if they do find that "F911" is entirely fabricated, untrue (e.g. the video footages or documents were doctored), then Moore would face incredible consequences, legal or not. Also, the power of the film will significantly be diminished because it is not true. Many people find the movie powerful and significant because they think/believe that the facts are true (even though they may not agree on Moore's commentaries). Again, if Moore is found to have fabricated things, then the power is lost.

Such is the case with Kouhri's book.

bolshywoman
08-05-2004, 11:00 AM
Spot on, Maestro. It's about ethics. It's absurd to say that this is solely a matter of Kouri's personal integrity which does not concern the profession as a whole. Of COURSE it does. Just as one dodgy legal practitioner gives all the good little lawyers a bad name, so can a fraud of her ilk undermine the work of us all. There just aren't words bad enough for her. [grimace]

Without intending to precipitate a flame war, the attitudes of a couple of writers on this thread are utterly mystifying.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 11:28 AM
Greenwolf:
We are not mad because we've been duped; we are mad because she intentionally deceived the reading public.

So you're a part of a group of people that's been intentionally deceived? Doesn't that mean you've been duped?


I know you think you're making cogent points here, but your arguments are specious and irrelevant.

Can't you see the difference between telling people only positive things about yourself and telling them things that are factually untrue?


You're right. That was a bad answer. Let's try again:

There may be laws out there to prevent people from spreading lies and half-truths. Advertisers may be stopped by it; so may unethical authors. There are also laws out there to prevent murder, and it happens, very frequently with the culprit never getting caught.

Let me say again: People are under no obligation to tell you (Royal "you") the truth.

If they want to lie to you, they can, and a lot of the time, they can get away with it.

What I am saying, is that *because* people are under no obligation to tell the truth means that people like you and me--readers, movie watchers, etc--are forced to make up our own minds. What a tragedy that must be. We must not take anyone at their word. They call that an argument from authority, when an authority's word is taken ONLY because he is an authority, and not because of the actual case he presents.


Euan:

I'm going to assume that these are generic 'you's and not directed at me personally.

You assume correctly. I should've noted it earlier.

And the Guardian's an acceptable enough source, so I'll assume everything's true.


So that's what she lied about. Is that acceptable? I say no. You may think differently.

People have lied about worse, but no, it's not "Acceptable" per se, insofar that you and I or any other half dozen members of this board are apparently guardians of morality.

I *never* said that it was acceptable. Never.


The question is not whether the movie would stand alone without the historical background. You said that:

"... just because a book's revealed as simply not being so doesn't make it any less a literary experience."

Which I don't think is true. The question is not whether 'Schindler's List' stands alone; the question is does the fact the six million plus people died in the Holocaust make Schindler's List more powerful as a movie? In other words, if we were somehow to find out that the Holocaust had never happened*, would that reduce the imapct of the movie?

No, I still don't think so, and I think I answered your question. I think it is a matter of standing alone. If a movie or a book, based on grimly realistic situations, needs something to prop it up, then it's not a good movie or book. I think Schindler's List is a deeply moving picture, Holocaust or no.

Let me try to steer this back the way I meant it to go. Ms. Kourhi's book is a lie. A fabrication. But I ask you this: Was the writing *moving*? Did the story move you simply BECAUSE you thought it was true? Could you approach it as fiction and not be moved in more or less the exact same way (a couple of folks have implied as much.)?

Because, let's face it, this was supposed to be a memoir. It's supposed to have a small amount of literary merit. (Angela's Ashes, anyone?) In my mind, memoirs are soft non-fiction (As opposed to the heavily sourced non-fiction like Fast Food Nation, or any Bob Woodward book, or any History book, etc). If Frank McCourt didn't actually grow up in a poor Irish family, do you think anyone would've cared?

If the BOOK is GOOD ENOUGH, it *will* be able to stand on its own.

But perhaps this is just a matter of artistic differences.


And I think the answer is that of course it would. I note that you imply you agree with me when you say "I might get an extra chill up my spine" thinking it really happened. That's the whole point I'm trying to make -- part (at least) of the power of Schindler's List derives from the fact that it is based on something that really happened.

Yes, part, but I dare say not "most". Again, the film is good enough to stand by itself. But I do wonder if this might not just be a very personal feeling on the matter.

For instance, The Passion of the Christ, everyone said (including a good number of critics) was a deeply moving film, no matter what your religion or creed.

However, I'm an atheist, and I found that contrary to what I felt when I was in the theatre. I felt that too little time was spent developing Jesus as a character, that I was expected, basically (and I say this without meaning to offend), to already be worshipping Jesus by the time I got in there, that I would carry that part of his character--the part where he was already a hero to me--into the theatre with me. But since I didn't, since Jim Caviezel was just Jim Caviezel dressed up in a beard and loin cloth to me, there was no effect. The violence didn't move me, because, again, the man on the screen was just a man on screen. He wasn't Jesus, he wasn't my personal savior, he wasn't even a representation of my personal savior, so nothing I could latch onto.

On the other hand, we have Schindler's List, which, I feel, derives most of its power not from the fact of the holocaust, but from the character of Schindler, who gives up everything he has to help those in need. *That's* where it got its power.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 11:29 AM
Even if the laws are not involved, Evan, please understand this word: ETHICS.

I never said that it wasn't unethical.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 11:31 AM
Spot on, Maestro. It's about ethics. It's absurd to say that this is solely a matter of Kouri's personal integrity which does not concern the profession as a whole. Of COURSE it does. Just as one dodgy legal practitioner gives all the good little lawyers a bad name, so can a fraud of her ilk undermine the work of us all.

And see, I'm of the opinion that people that believe that the work of one person (be it one writer or one lawyer), represents the whole, should be thrown in jail for common stupidity. That's a ridiculous position to hold, and it falls apart with a moment's examination.

Euan Harvey
08-05-2004, 01:20 PM
>...insofar that you and I or any other half dozen members of this board are apparently guardians of morality.

In certain cases I hope that everyone on this board would be a guardian of morality. The difficulty comes in deciding when it becomes unwarranted intrusion.

>For instance, The Passion of the Christ, everyone said (including a good number of critics) was a deeply moving film...

>However, I'm an atheist, and I found that contrary to what I felt when I was in the theatre. I felt that too little time was spent developing Jesus as a character, that I was expected, basically (and I say this without meaning to offend), to already be worshipping Jesus by the time I got in there, that I would carry that part of his character--the part where he was already a hero to me--into the theatre with me. But since I didn't, since Jim Caviezel was just Jim Caviezel dressed up in a beard and loin cloth to me, there was no effect. The violence didn't move me, because, again, the man on the screen was just a man on screen. He wasn't Jesus, he wasn't my personal savior, he wasn't even a representation of my personal savior, so nothing I could latch onto.

So, what you're saying, if I've understood you right, is that you found the Passion of the Christ (which I haven't seen btw) to be not as moving as you had been led to believe it would be. And the reason for this is that as you are an atheist, the images and events on the screen did not touch you -- you had no link to them.

So your attitude to the truth (or otherwise) of the story affected how much you were moved by it. If you had gone into the theatre a fervent christian, believing in the truth of the story that the movie showed, your reaction would probably have been very different.

Which all sounds a lot like what I was saying about the truth or otherwise of her novel. I think it's inescapable. Knowing that a particular story is true inevitably affects that story's impact.

How much it affects the impact is an open question I think. I agree with you that Schindler's List gains some of its power from the nature of Schindler's character.

>In my mind, memoirs are soft non-fiction

Fair enough. But soft non-fiction is different from invented from whole-cloth. If I read memoirs, I expect exagguration and poetic licence -- I don't expect outright lies.

Cheers,

Euan

Greenwolf103
08-05-2004, 01:21 PM
NO, Evan. I have not read the book. Get off my back.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 01:39 PM
Knowing that a particular story is true inevitably affects that story's impact.

Only a poorly-made story. I think PotC fails as a movie because it expects you to bring a defined set of baggage into the theatre with you, indeed, whole swaths of the movie DEPEND on you already thinking of Jesus as a real person that went through this stuff.

Let me be clear about this: I'm not saying that the truth of something doesn't affect my or anyone else's reaction to it. What I'm saying is that if it's a good enough movie (dealing with Schindler as a specific example), then it doesn't HAVE to be true to have the same depth of impact.

***Which takes us off on an entirely different track of discussion, one that I don't necessarily mind pursuing, but am not going to push towards.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 01:41 PM
NO, Evan. I have not read the book. Get off my back.

All apologies. You just sounded, from your post, particularly affronted by the fact that Ms. Kourhi lied. You repeatedly said "We" which led me to believe that you had read her book.

Point still stands.

absolutewrite
08-05-2004, 01:53 PM
This really is becoming similar to the argument about PA and how everyone who believed their lies should feel stupid and small and not blame the liar, but blame themselves.

I am a trusting person. Not a stupid person-- but a trusting person, and I will never feel small or guilty for being trusting. That's not my burden. The burden of conscience should always remain with the person who set out to deceive, and not with the people who were intentionally misled.

By the by, you said you trust The Guardian. Why? What makes you think the reporter and the possible fact-checker on that day weren't setting out to deceive you?

Anyway... Evan, you are free to express your opinions, but please understand that saying that people on this board should be "jailed for common stupidity" isn't going to fly here.

And a reminder to all: We have one rule here. "Respect your fellow writers."

Keepin' it simple,

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 02:19 PM
This really is becoming similar to the argument about PA and how everyone who believed their lies should feel stupid and small and not blame the liar, but blame themselves.


You think people that fall for these scams share NONE of the blame? I think they do. They let themselves down by not being critical thinkers, being too credulous and gullible; and if they lose a good deal amount of money, and there are children and spouses involved that depend on them, then they've let their family down, as well.

I'm not saying that they should be brought up in a court of law. Their crime is less heinous than the ones that thought the scam up PURPOSELY to mislead people, but they shouldn't try to pin the blame wholesale on other people, simply to cover up their own mistakes.


By the by, you said you trust The Guardian. Why? What makes you think the reporter and the possible fact-checker on that day weren't setting out to deceive you?

Not sure this is relevant, but, a few reasons:

--Because the things the Guardian presented aren't that unbelievable. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. These claims aren't all that extraordinary.

--I asked for a source for a list of Ms. Kourhi's alleged lies, because I wanted to know if they might be considered acceptable. I think the standard of proof is a bit lower for something of that nature than if, say, I was going to determine, conclusively, her guilt or innocence.

--People I know and respect have read the Guardian and have a high opinion of it.

--I've read the Guardian, and I have never seen an article of theirs that struck me as particularly inflammatory or completely baseless. These are all marks for the Guardian.


Anyway... Evan, you are free to express your opinions, but please understand that saying that people on this board should be "jailed for common stupidity" isn't going to fly here.

You're right. At the time, I didn't mean it as a direct attack on bolshywoman, since she said: "Just as one dodgy legal practitioner gives all the good little lawyers a bad name, so can a fraud of her ilk undermine the work of us all...", which doesn't *necessarily* imply that *she* believes that the work of one person represents the whole, only that *other* people believe it.

So I wasn't specifically saying that people on the board should be jailed for common stupidity. Perhaps a better way to frame it is: "I'm of the opinion that people that believe that the work of one person (be it one writer or one lawyer), represents the whole, show a grievous breach of logic."

I won't delete it, because if it had been offensive enough you would have done so, but also because to delete it myself would be, I think, unethical. I said it, and I won't deny it, or try to remove the evidence of it.

HConn
08-05-2004, 02:28 PM
There may be laws out there to prevent people from spreading lies and half-truths. Advertisers may be stopped by it; so may unethical authors. There are also laws out there to prevent murder, and it happens, very frequently with the culprit never getting caught.

Let me say again: People are under no obligation to tell you (Royal "you") the truth.

You contradict yourself. First you say there are laws against spreading lies, and then you say there is no obligation to tell the truth.

Laws are an obligation. A legal obligation.

You've also forgotten that authors have to sign a contract that asserts their manuscript is true. That's a contractual obligation.

Your argument is still specious.


If they want to lie to you, they can, and a lot of the time, they can get away with it.

"A lot of the time"? How do you know they get away with a lie if it isn't detected? The only lies we know about are the ones that are revealed, yes?

So there's no honest way to know whether a lot or a few people get away with lying. It's a specious argument.

The truth is, they can try to lie. If they don't get away with it, they become Jayson Blair or Ms. Khouri--pariahs in their fields


What I am saying, is that *because* people are under no obligation to tell the truth means that people like you and me--readers, movie watchers, etc--are forced to make up our own minds. What a tragedy that must be. We must not take anyone at their word. They call that an argument from authority, when an authority's word is taken ONLY because he is an authority, and not because of the actual case he presents.

This is the specious cherry on top.

Here's an unpleasant fact: Some people are experts. Honest to God experts. Their credibility lies in their ability to describe the world truthfully to other experts and the general public.

Journalistic integrity.

Academic integrity.

Individuals and institutions struggle to maintain it. And it's a big deal when it's threatened. Which is why your statements that people should not be allowed to argue from authority is irrelevant. People argue from expertise.

Because I'm curious how you would judge the truthfulness, usefulness and accuracy "of the actual case he presents." I'm curious how you would "make up your own mind." You don't have the expertise to know what's really going on in the Middle East. All you can do is listen to the testimony of experts. Experts with credibility.

That's how you make up your own mind.

So, this last part of your argument falls apart, unless you can tell me how I'm supposed to make up my own mind on honor killings in Jordan or tax cuts or trade sanctions or popular music trends if I have zero information I can trust.

Evan, do yourself a favor. Quit while you're behind.

Euan Harvey
08-05-2004, 02:32 PM
>What I'm saying is that if it's a good enough movie (dealing with Schindler as a specific example), then it doesn't HAVE to be true to have the same depth of impact.

Hmm. What we'd need for comparison is some kind of totally fictionalized (and obviously so) account of a comparable event in another movie, and then we could compare the two -- but then we'd run into the problem of the fiction or fact not being the only variable...

I remember reading in one of Iain Banks' SF novels (I think it was 'Excession') an account of a Holocaust-type event on an alien-world. Banks has the aliens totally destroy the minority though, even down to a 1984-ish destruction of all photographs and records of them.

Now the scenes were powerful, but had Banks been writing about the Holocaust, it might have been even more so. But as he hasn't, then it's an open question, and an unanswerable one, I think.

I think I'm going to have to disagree with you, but I also think there's no way of proving either of us right or wrong.

So in conclusion, I'd like to say:

I'm right, I'm right, I'm right and you're wrong Mr. Poopy-Head!

:b

Cheers,

Euan

HConn
08-05-2004, 02:42 PM
>What I'm saying is that if it's a good enough movie (dealing with Schindler as a specific example), then it doesn't HAVE to be true to have the same depth of impact.

Hmm. What we'd need for comparison is some kind of totally fictionalized (and obviously so) account of a comparable event in another movie, and then we could compare the two -- but then we'd run into the problem of the fiction or fact not being the only variable...

Actually, have you ever watched a movie and later found out it was based on a true story?

STAND AND DELIVER was a terrific movie, not only for the cast, but the writing and the structure and all the rest.

But at the end, when you find out it was based on a true story, and that the success in that story continued year after year, my response to the movie deepend. It became more powerful. I went out and looked up Jaime Escalante and the good things he did. Very inspiring.

Contrast that with the reaction of a co-worker of mine when he found out the BLAIR WITCH was fiction play-marketed as fact. He was disappointed and turned off.

Fiction and Non-fiction do not have the same effect on viewers. I'm sorry, but it doesn't. They aren't interchangeable.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 02:46 PM
Laws are an obligation. A legal obligation.


Correct, but laws are broken.


"A lot of the time"? How do you know they get away with a lie if it isn't detected? The only lies we know about are the ones that are revealed, yes?

Correct.



Which is why your statements that people should not be allowed to argue from authority is irrelevant. People argue from expertise.

I never said that. What I said: "They call that an argument from authority, when an authority's word is taken ONLY because he is an authority, and not because of the actual case he presents."

In other words, the case that the authority presents must stand up.

Einstein might have said "I believe in invisible pink unicorns", but that doesn't make it so.


All you can do is listen to the testimony of experts. Experts with credibility.

That's how you make up your own mind.

Never said otherwise. What I've been trying to get at, repeatedly, is that one source should not be trusted whole-heartedly. Particularly in Ms. Kourhi's case, when the book in question's a dog-damn memoir. It's not a textbook, and should be treated with an inherent level of suspicion.


So, this last part of your argument falls apart

Only if you're blind.


Evan, do yourself a favor. Quit while you're behind.

Don't be so patronizing, and I'll stop reciprocating.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 02:50 PM
Fiction and Non-fiction do not have the same effect on viewers. I'm sorry, but it doesn't. They aren't interchangeable.

I never said that non-fiction DOESN'T add to the experience of something I'd previously considered fiction, or vice-versa, what I've said is that it doesn't matter much to ME, as far as "Art" is concerned--movies, books (particularly fiction, but also "memoirish" type things)

But it's obviously a very personal thing.

absolutewrite
08-05-2004, 03:04 PM
HConn, you took the words out of my mouth-- I was just going to say the same thing about finding out a movie is true at the end. If I've just watched a good movie, then found out it was true, ka-ZOW! I'm awed. I run and tell my friends. I look up more information. Happened with Men of Honor. Thought it was a great movie, but I likely would have forgotten it-- then found out it was fact-based and couldn't put it out of my head. I still think of it often.

Euan:
I'm right, I'm right, I'm right and you're wrong Mr. Poopy-Head!

Finally, someone understands what I mean by respecting fellow writers! :grin

Evan: OK, we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one. I'm often reminded of that poor old guy who flew to (where, Florida?) because he thought he won the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes and spent money he couldn't afford to get there to collect his winnings. I don't blame him. The advertising is soooo intentionally misleading, and not everyone has the critical thinking skills, research skills, or cynicism we'd like them to have.

If you knew something was shady and you chose to trust it anyway, without research, I don't have much sympathy. But if no warning bells went off (based on your life experiences) and you had no reason to distrust something/someone, I'd never place the blame on you for getting burned.

Anything else I have to say on the subject would probably be just thin repetitions of what I've already said, so I'll bow out.

I really do enjoy learning about how other people think, though, and I like "healthy" debate. I just don't like it when it breaks down to insults.

HConn
08-05-2004, 03:32 PM
Correct, but laws are broken.

So you've dropped the whole "no obligation to tell the truth" argument? Smart move.


In other words, the case that the authority presents must stand up.

Stand up to what? The scrutiny of other authorities on a subject? How do you know whether to trust those contradicting authorities?


What I've been trying to get at, repeatedly, is that one source should not be trusted whole-heartedly.

This makes no sense in the context of the discussion. There is no doubt that honor killings happen. You understand that, right? The real problem is that Ms. Khouri told lies about a actual tragedy in the world, hindering the efforts of honest people to fight the killings.

That's why it matters that it's labeled fiction and non-fiction. That's why it has to be (and is) appreciated in a different manner. Because there is no doubt that honor killings occur. And there's no reason to believe this woman is a liar. No reason to believe her account is full of lies.

This is also the flaw in the argument of the "You're at fault for believing PA's lies" people. People knowledgeable about publishing recognize the differences between the traditional publishers PA claims to be and PA's actual business model. People knowledgeable about Jordan recognized the differences between Ms. Khouri's account of the country and the real thing.

People who are not in the know, don't know. They have no reason to know. They're not experts. They quite reasonably accept lies as truth.

Yes, I know. People lie despite their obligations (which you've now accepted exist). But the burden does not lie on a member of the public who has reasonable evidence that the lie is truth, whether that evidence is the testimony of numerous happy authors, the Random House name on the spine, or even the masthead of The Guardian at the top of page one.

That's why non-fiction such as Ms. Khouri's book is not just art (lower case "a" for me), it's also reportage.

And yes, I'm sorry, but your argument does fall apart. You state, after the fact, that she should not have been trusted, without providing any basis by which we (people not in a position test her assertions) should have judged her. You say we should "make up our own mind" which seems easy to do in hindsight.

Empty proscriptions. Irrelevant remarks about Einstein.

Specious arguments.


Don't be so patronizing, and I'll stop reciprocating.

Dude, considering the flimsy arguments you've put forth here, you aren't able to patronize me.

And I'm well aware that you aren't able to change your opinion. So I'm done.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 03:49 PM
*edited to the next post.

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 04:07 PM
Never mind...



Stand up to what? The scrutiny of other authorities on a subject? How do you know whether to trust those contradicting authorities?

Standing up logically is a good start. If authorities disagree, then you need to determine which one is more reliable, by whatever standard suits you.



The real problem is that Ms. Khouri told lies about a actual tragedy in the world, hindering the efforts of honest people to fight the killings.

How, exactly, does Ms. Khouri's book hinder the efforts of honest people trying to fight the killings?


That's why it matters that it's labeled fiction and non-fiction.

Never said differently


This is also the flaw in the argument of the "You're at fault for believing PA's lies" people. People knowledgeable about publishing recognize the differences between the traditional publishers PA claims to be and PA's actual business model. People knowledgeable about Jordan recognized the differences between Ms. Khouri's account of the country and the real thing.

People who are not in the know, don't know. They have no reason to know. They're not experts. They quite reasonably accept lies as truth.

Absolutely right, but perhaps a little research might be in order?


But the burden does not lie on a member of the public who has reasonable evidence that the lie is truth, whether that evidence is the testimony of numerous happy authors, the Random House name on the spine, or even the masthead of The Guardian at the top of page one.

I don't buy this. This removes all responsibility that the reader might have. I've never said Khouri's actions were ethical. Never. But the readers DO have a responsibility, only to themselves, mind, as thinking human beings, to a) not take a single source at her word, and b) not invest so deeply in that source as they obviously do, until that source is further confirmed by others.


You state, after the fact, that she should not have been trusted, without providing any basis by which we (people not in a position test her assertions) should have judged her.<!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>

No one with something to sell should be trusted. Fiction authors, of course, are selling things as very obvious lies.

Non fiction authors are not, but as someone pointed out, earlier, "non fiction" is no guarantee of *truth*

Furthermore, what bothers me is not so much that people have taken Ms. Khouri at her word, but that they seem to have invested so MUCH in her word, blindly, with no questions as to its veracity, letting themselves soak it up like they've been reading something blatantly labeled "fiction", until something dropped into their laps one day that said it was a lie, where they were henceforth crushed.

<!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>You say we should "make up our own mind" which seems easy to d<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->

Oh, yes, absolutely.


Empty proscriptions.

Empty reply.


Irrelevant remarks about Einstein.

It was an example to illustrate the claim that arguments shouldn't be taken from authority simply BECAUSE they're authorities. You don't think that I'd throw a mention of Einstein out there to razzle-dazzle the crowd, do you?

Keep throwing them out, man. Keep on.


And I'm well aware that you aren't able to change your opinion. So I'm done.

Apparently not, or you would've stopped before you made the post.

bolshywoman
08-05-2004, 04:21 PM
<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>You're right. At the time, I didn't mean it as a direct attack on bolshywoman, since she said: "Just as one dodgy legal practitioner gives all the good little lawyers a bad name, so can a fraud of her ilk undermine the work of us all...", which doesn't *necessarily* imply that *she* believes that the work of one person represents the whole, only that *other* people believe it.

So I wasn't specifically saying that people on the board should be jailed for common stupidity. Perhaps a better way to frame it is: "I'm of the opinion that people that believe that the work of one person (be it one writer or one lawyer), represents the whole, show a grievous breach of logic."<hr></blockquote>

Evan A, I know you weren't attacking me. I happen to agree with you that false syllogisms are ridiculous, including any that run along the lines of, "Khouri was a writer, Khouri was a fraud, therefore writers are frauds."

You yourself referred to "common stupidity." That was an apt term. Like it or not, there are plenty of people who make these sorts of judgements- and it's fairly natural. If someone has felt duped and betrayed by one fraudulent 'memoirist,' is she not naturally inclined to be distrustful of the next? If she is not, will you label her "gullible"?

BTW, I spoke not from any personal dislike of lawyers, but from experience. I'm a senior law student with a job in a top firm lined up- and you wouldn't believe the snipy little things that have already been said to me about my presumably shaky ethics. <img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/smile.gif" />

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 05:17 PM
presumably shaky ethics.

*Presumably* shaky ethics? Wait, I thought everyone knew....

Good to know that I didn't make an enemy. That was definitely not my intention.

pina la nina
08-05-2004, 06:46 PM
Wow - not sure I'm brave enough to enter into the fray but I have been wondering about this question of truth in non-fiction for some time.

People have made statements to the effect that non-fiction is true and 100% true, but surely that itself can not be true, in spite of fact-checkers.

I can't quote the book but remember reading an excerpt in the NY Times reviewing a non-fiction book about a war where the author describes, in gory detail, how people ran from an explosion and not only were their eyes popping from their heads but their brains were melting in this sort of fluorescent ooze.

And I was shocked, honestly, that anyone could claim such a thing. The eyeball thing, I have no experience, but I work with fluorescent materials and they need an energy source to emit that glow - brains just don't. Maybe it looked fluorescent or maybe it was fluorescent in the way that "neon paint" (ah the 80's) was neon. Maybe it was poetic license. There could be a lot of maybes there, but the passage, though purple was written with a sort of "you were there" feel. It seemed to be intended to be fact.

That detail made me question everything in the passage and certainly turned me off from buying the book, which I think was otherwise reviewed well enough. At least the reviewer wasn't getting hung up on details of biology like I was.

Sorry to get way OT here, but I know its simply a detail, but so obviously a fake one. Was it a typo or was the author trying to mislead?

I know that this doesn't apply to the Khouri case because she fabricated such huge portions and incidents it would be more akin to claiming that a certain battle took place although it did not. I'm not trying to analogize her story and this one.

I am, if anyone is willing, hoping to expand the discussion or at least acknowledge that there appears to be some (fluorescent) gray area of exaggeration, if you will. And I'm uncomfortable with that. But I could see how such common uses of over-the-top occurances in non-fiction would engender the sort of cynicism that Evan has. Why should we believe any of a book? Why should I believe in the war but not in fluorescent body parts? Where do I say, "Okay that's all right, but THAT by gum, is not!"

And to extend this to something that happened to me - I had an article published that when I saw the issue as it was on the newstand had a non-fact added right into it. A doozy. I was horrified, since these were now words attributed to me and the editor had turned science into fiction. I emailed like crazy but got not response. :( I was hoping they'd at least acknowledge the error in a later issue and they didn't. Now who's spreading lies? Me. Sort of. And yes, I cashed the check anyway.

Isn't this what distinguishes between an authoritative source, be it author or institution, that their stuff is True to more people who know, rather than True-ish with some fudging and fluff around the middle?

evanaharris
08-05-2004, 07:29 PM
Well, Pina, I don't want to come off as overtly cynical, especially about "non-fiction." What it comes down to is me decrying society as a whole for not taking responsibility for itself. So it's really not about books at all.

As for how much "poetic license" a non-fiction writer can take, I think that IS a topic ripe for discussion. My own view is...well...certainly not as much poetic license as you describe. That reads almost like a bad horror novel.

And, certain types of non-fiction bear out a great deal of poetic license. I mentioned Angela's Ashes earlier. No one would have wanted to read it if it had read like, I dunno, Knitting for Dummies. In memoirish non-fiction, you're allowed a great deal of poetic license, as those are widely regarded as "literary" works.

The standards would be different for history books, and scholarly works, books that you expect to have a more objective tone.

MistyEve
08-05-2004, 10:38 PM
Yikes!

Quite a 'discussion'.

Having just read this entire thread, it is interesting to note that the tone and spirit of the replies did not really get 'personal' until Evan revealed his age.

In a thread dealing with 'ethics' - perhaps the real 'grown up' writers here do not see the breach of 'ethics' involved in depriving a fellow poster - a fellow writer - and a fellow human being - of the basic human right to have a contrary opinion?

Though I do not necessarily agree with Evan's position on the issue, I admire him for standing up the landslide of negativity - in a mature and good natured way - which is more than can (apparently!), be said for some of us. No?

Peace & Light, :heart
-Eve

Tish Davidson
08-06-2004, 12:44 AM
Evan wrote:

Let me say again: People are under no obligation to tell you (Royal "you") the truth.

If they want to lie to you, they can, and a lot of the time, they can get away with it.

What I am saying, is that *because* people are under no obligation to tell the truth means that people like you and me--readers, movie watchers, etc--are forced to make up our own minds. What a tragedy that must be. We must not take anyone at their word.

I am trying to understand how this idea that society is responsible for falling for lies and scams plays out in real life. For example, does the above mean then that if you submit a resume for a job, you are under no obligation to be truthful, because it is the employer's responsibility to ferret out any lies you chose to tell?

evanaharris
08-06-2004, 05:25 AM
I never said that scammers have NO responsibility for their actions, nor that the people that fall for the scams take all responsibility.

What I AM saying, is that human beings have a very basic duty to themselves, and to others around them, to be skeptical, critical-thinking entities. When they fail to do that, for whatever reasons, then I believe that, yes, they are at fault (partially) for the things that befall them as a result of that lack of critical thinking.

Euan Harvey
08-06-2004, 05:42 AM
>STAND AND DELIVER was a terrific movie, not only for the cast, but the writing and the structure and all the rest.

>But at the end, when you find out it was based on a true story, and that the success in that story continued year after year, my response to the movie deepend.

Never heard of it -- but I'll keep an eye out for it now.

I didn't think of this (watching a movie and finding out it was true afterwards), but of course it proves the point in question.

I also didn't know Men of Honor was based on true events -- that's another movie I'll have to go out and get.

***

>I know that this doesn't apply to the Khouri case because she fabricated such huge portions and incidents it would be more akin to claiming that a certain battle took place although it did not.

This is the key thing, I think. Okay, so memoirs have some (a lot?) of poetic license. Well, that's okay, memories are not perfect, and if I tell a story about something that happened to me, it's going to be slightly different to what actually happened. But 'slightly different' is not the same as 'completely invented.'

If I describe a restaurant as 'fantastic', but when you go it's not all that good -- that's okay. But if I describe a restaurant as 'fantastic', and when you go it doesn't exist -- that's not okay.

Spinning events, putting a particular slant on them, interpreting them, and so on are all acceptable things in writing memoirs and biographies. Outright fiction is not.

>What it comes down to is me decrying society as a whole for not taking responsibility for itself.

This is silly.

If I book a hotel room, I am trusting that what appears on the web-site is at least a reasonable impression of what the hotel will be like. I am trusting that the prices posted on the web-site are what they will charge me.

If I walk into a surgery/doctor's office, and I see a framed certificate on the wall, I don't walk up to it with a magnifying glass and start searching for clues as to whether it might be a forgery.

No-one can possibly evaluate every single claim made to them every single day. Certain things we have to take on trust.

Ever eaten at a restaurant without checking the kitchen?


***

>In a thread dealing with 'ethics' - perhaps the real 'grown up' writers here do not see the breach of 'ethics' involved in depriving a fellow poster - a fellow writer - and a fellow human being - of the basic human right to have a contrary opinion?

I thought it had all been fairly civilized so far. And I don't think any of us could ever (or would ever want to) deprive Evan of the right to hold a contrary opinion. The moderators could possibly start removing posts and banning people, but everytime I've seen that done it's been fairly even-handed.

Am I really a 'grown-up'? Cool. :thumbs

Anyway, that's my 2c,

Euan

evanaharris
08-06-2004, 06:03 AM
>What it comes down to is me decrying society as a whole for not taking responsibility for itself.

This is silly.

If I book a hotel room, I am trusting that what appears on the web-site is at least a reasonable impression of what the hotel will be like. I am trusting that the prices posted on the web-site are what they will charge me.

If I walk into a surgery/doctor's office, and I see a framed certificate on the wall, I don't walk up to it with a magnifying glass and start searching for clues as to whether it might be a forgery.

No-one can possibly evaluate every single claim made to them every single day. Certain things we have to take on trust.

It's not silly at all. If you look on the website, and then go to the hotel, if the rooms don't look like they do on the website, you can ask for your money back. If the prices you are charged are different than the prices that are posted, you can simply not pay it and find another hotel.

Doctors vouch for each other. Perhaps they reccomended you to a specialist, maybe the building is nice, maybe the doctor's been around for a long time in the community. Maybe he's got a big ad in the yellow pages.

The truth is, you DO evaluate every single claim you run into, every day. You just may not be aware of it. I trust my doctor because she's a very nice woman, and I worked in her office and I've babysat her kids. I know her husband, and I know her sister, She's been working for something like ten years. I've seen her certificate, and while I can't know for sure, all signs point to yes, including her reputation among her colleagues. "She does good work," they say.

When I stay at a hotel, usually I'll pick a Holiday Inn or something of that nature. Why? Because I've stayed there in the past, and things have worked out okay for me. The reputation of the hotel chain is good.

You're right, some things are taken on complete and absolute trust, but, by and large, more things are taken on a trust that's built on things that came before. You go to and stay with this particular doctor for a reason, you go to and stay in this hotel for a reason.

The thing about Ms. Khouri (he said, steering the conversation back on topic,) is that she had no reputation (from what I can tell) to speak of. This was her first book. So why did everyone trust her implicitly?

Think about it--how often, really, are things in your daily life based on an absolute, total, completely unproven faith? Very little.

Cars are very dangerous machines, perhaps more dangerous than TVs, in my mind, and televisions are the Antichrist, to me. But you know yourself as a driver, you have found, over the years, that you can react to certain situations quite well. If someone slams on their brakes in front of you, you think you can avoid it. Perhaps you drive an SUV, so you don't really worry about getting hit. Perhaps you've never gotten hit before.

These are all, whether you're actively thinking it or not, statistics in your favor.

Euan Harvey
08-06-2004, 07:10 AM
>You're right, some things are taken on complete and absolute trust, but, by and large, more things are taken on a trust that's built on things that came before. You go to and stay with this particular doctor for a reason, you go to and stay in this hotel for a reason.


You're right -- my phrasing was wrong. What I was thinking about is that we don't subject claims to rigorous analysis* -- we take certain things as granted given our previous experiences. That's not what I said, but it's what I was thinking about.

*Which is what I thought *you* were saying. I see now you weren't, which is jolly good really, because it is fairly silly.

>The thing about Ms. Khouri (he said, steering the conversation back on topic,) is that she had no reputation (from what I can tell) to speak of. This was her first book. So why did everyone trust her implicitly?

I would say that people trusted her because the book appeared from a reputable publisher (Bantam, I believe), and it seemed reasonable, based on past experiences with books from reputable publishers, to assume that a book being marketed as non-fiction is, in fact, non-fiction.

So...should the publisher share some of the blame? Hmm. Maybe.

Cheers,

Euan

evanaharris
08-06-2004, 07:18 AM
What I was thinking about is that we don't subject claims to rigorous analysis*

Yeah, I'm not going to sit there and weigh the individual strengths and merits on whether or not to go out to eat at night.


So...should the publisher share some of the blame? Hmm. Maybe.

Castrate the bastards!!

pianoman5
08-06-2004, 07:54 AM
Evan, I understand that you may be cynical about the world, and the reasons why. You have every reason to be. It is apparently a common characteristic of Generation Y, who are not buying the suspect blandishments of parents, authority figures, or advertisers.

And the truth is, after all, one of the most fickle and variable of all life's abstractions.

But in the bookshop or library some very basic definitions apply.

Fiction = The truth told through lies.

Non-Fiction = The truth told through truth.

We have a right to expect that the minimum standards of honesty still apply in these last bastions of the written word, without checking. Anyone who transgresses is an unqualified a****le.

evanaharris
08-06-2004, 08:08 AM
Evan, I understand that you may be cynical about the world,

I wouldn't label myself a cynic, but I'm sure I fit the dictionary definition.


We have a right to expect that the minimum standards of honesty still apply in these last bastions of the written word, without checking. Anyone who transgresses is an unqualified a****le.

Hmm, well, I don't think I've ever said that minimum standards shouldn't be self-applied by the authors and publishers, and I agree that these books SHOULD exist without us having to check them out. But as they do not...well...

LiamJackson
08-10-2004, 05:10 AM
Looking at this issue from another perspective, had she been a reporter, the consequences for the fraud would have been swift and enduring.

In fact, in most controversial works of a biographical nature, the veracity of the accounts are usally at center-ring and under intense scrutiny. Can you imagine the furor had this been a political figure writing a staged account? Seems to me the issue is pretty clear. It's an unacceptable practice and punished when discovered.

ChunkyC
08-10-2004, 09:15 PM
What I AM saying, is that human beings have a very basic duty to themselves, and to others around them, to be skeptical, critical-thinking entities.
You know, that's actually quite true, Evan. The modern world is forcing us to start from a position of mistrust and skepticism in our dealings with each other instead of the other way around.

How very, very sad.

Nameless65
08-11-2004, 11:33 PM
Looking at this issue from another perspective, had she been a reporter, the consequences for the fraud would have been swift and enduring.
I donít know Ė has Jayson Blair suffered any enduring consequences? His book made it to the NYT bestsellers list (#32 the last I saw). It seems as though his editors/the paper got the worst of it.

Greenwolf103
08-11-2004, 11:37 PM
I agree. That's a whole 'nother ballpark.

maestrowork
08-12-2004, 12:42 AM
Blair got fired and lost his credibility as a journalist. And yes, the editors at NYT suffers too. But in the media, any publicity is good publicity.

However, did Blair lie his books? You'd bet that his editor probably checked all the facts, too. It's basically an expose of what happened and went wrong at NYT... that's why it's a BEST SELLER because everyone wants to know the dirty little secrets... the bottom line is, Blair might not have the credibility to be a journalist anymore, but his book has credibility -- I bet he didn't put any fiction in it (otherwise he'd be sued out of his wazzu).

Would Kouhri suffer in the long run? Probably not, especially if she starts writing fiction or a "tell-all" book about her scams. She'll make millions and move on. But we're not really arguing about that, are we?

evanaharris
08-17-2004, 10:00 AM
You know, that's actually quite true, Evan. The modern world is forcing us to start from a position of mistrust and skepticism in our dealings with each other instead of the other way around.

I dare say it's always been that way.

And, besides, I'm not talking about starting from a position of undue cynicism, simply healthy skepticism.

Sorry for dragging this thread back up. I've been in Florida for the past week. Go hurricane Charley.

beezle
08-18-2004, 10:39 AM
This story is recieving a lot of coverage in Australia. Here's the latest.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Publisher to sue Khouri over lies
August 18, 2004 - 10:12AM

The British publisher of controversial author Norma Khouri plans to sue over an alleged breach of contract.

The 34-year-old author yesterday admitted making up parts of her best-selling non-fiction book Forbidden Love but said she did so to protect herself, her friends and her family.

Transworld spokesman Larry Finlay told ABC radio's AM program today the publisher was planning to sue Ms Khouri for breach of contract.

"If there are serious factual inaccuracies which she has admitted to then how do we know what to believe?" Mr Finlay said.

"The book is non-fiction - everything within it has to be true and she can't pick and choose which bits are true and which bits are not."

Mr Finlay denied Ms Khouri's claims on the Nine Network last night that she had not been paid for her book, which has sold around 250,000 copies worldwide.

"She has received a very substantial advance against royalties earned in four tranches - one on signature of the contract, one on receipt of the book and two further tranches on publication in trade paperback in the UK and finally on mass market publication in February of 2003," he said.

The book, which has been withdrawn from sale, tells the story of the death of a Muslim friend she named as Dalia, murdered by her family for loving a Christian man.

But Ms Khouri, who lives on Queensland's Bribie Island, has admitted changing names, dates, locations and characterisations to protect friends still living in Jordan.

Transworld is a division of the Random House publishing group.

AAP