Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Is Truth Stranger Than Fiction?
I recently took advantage of the reduced price and downloaded the ebook version of Catch Me If You Can, supposedly based on the exploits of con man Frank Abignale, Jr. I found the book fascinating, although it was hard to believe that a young man (he was in his teens when he began impersonating a Pan Am Airways pilot) could do all that. Of course, at the end of the book he was arrested and sent to jail, but I still had an uncomfortable feeling that his illegal and hedonistic exploits were glorified throughout the first 80% or more of the book.
Then, after reading the notes at the end of the book I searched for more and found a post by him that explained a lot about the writing of the work. According to Abignale, the writer met with him only four times, changed a number of the exploits (I guess we'd call it "literary license"), and glorified the criminal and what he'd done--because that's what it would take to sell the book (and later the rights for a movie). In other words, the truth was not only stranger than fiction, it wouldn't sell.
All this made me wonder how much truth is in some of the so-called autobiographies and memoirs by well-known individuals "as told to" or "with" another writer. There's a saying among writers that fiction must be believable, while real life often isn't. Do you think that's true?
Image from Wikipedia.
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