Sunday, April 20, 2008

SOUND OFF: Fake Memories

The author of a memoir about growing up during the Holocaust and surviving, partly by living with wolves, has admitted that her story was a hoax. My readers weighed in on whether it was right for her publisher to sue her, even though she had ignored professional advice when she published the book in the first place and sued only after losing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in which the author charged her with not promoting the book as promised.

"Any decent book contract will include a clause where the author promises that all of the material she turns in for publication is true," writes Brian Hurley of Brooklyn, N.Y. "It would almost be a breach of trust for the editor to question the author's work after she has signed the contract."

"That some experts told her that `factual aspects of the story were troubling' does not by itself mean that she acted badly in publishing," writes Luis Villalobos of Newport Beach, Calif. "The publisher may have concluded in good faith that the work was not fake."

"I'm having trouble locating even one ethical person in this entire debacle," writes M. Lawrence of Culpepper, Va.

Check out other opinions at "A Great Deal More than Just the Facts," or post your own or post your own by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2008 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

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