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Topic of the Week: The Fine Line Between Fact and Fiction July 27, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in creative non-fiction, memoir, non-fiction, travel essays.
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No matter what publishing pundits say, memoirs and creative non-fiction are still selling. You’d think that after James Frey’s memoir, A Million Little Pieces, was exposed as brilliant fiction in memoir covers, publishing professionals would be more scrupulous in signing and publishing memoirs. Not so. Along came Misha Defonseca’s, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, followed by Love and Consequences by Margaret B. Jones, both of which have been outed as fakes. Perhaps the most heartbreaking memoir fraud of late was Angel at the Fence by Herman Rosenblat, the Halocaust love story everyone wanted to believe about the girl who threw apples over the concentration camp fence and later married the author.

Gary Buslik with his favorite Tweeter

Gary Buslik with his favorite Tweeter

Gary Buslik says he doesn’t have the faintest idea how to make an honest living. He wrote for travel magazines for a while, and when he discovered that by tossing around insincere promises, he could get hotels and restaurants to give him free rooms, meals, and drinks to write something nice about them, and, what’s more, the IRS would let him deduct lots of goofy expenses by declaring himself a freelance writer, he was able to forge a virtually useless profession into a rewarding lifestyle.

These days Gary writes novels, short stories, and essays and, in case the government should ask any questions, teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago—which isn’t quite an honest living, but you work with what you have.

A Rotten Person CoverHis work has appeared in many literary and commercial magazines and anthologies and has been nominated several times for Pushcart Prizes. His novel The Missionary’s Position is a favorite of the Caribbean tourist crowd, and his latest book, A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean (Travelers’ Tales 2008), won Benjamin Franklin and Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards for travel writing.

Gary windsurfs and plays softball. He wants his gravestone to read, HERE LIES GARY BUSLIK. NOW, THANK GOD, HE NEVER HAS TO PLAY GOLF.

Follow Gary at @rottenperson.

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