Two years after the James Frey scandal, a still-roiled genre thrives.
Buoyed by the success of a few flagship titles – including "Eat, Pray, Love," by Elizabeth Gilbert, and "Beautiful Boy," by David Sheff – the memoir category continues to be a source of strength for a publishing industry that has watched sales of literary fiction slip in recent years.
Mr. Sheff's book, a tale of his son's addiction to methamphetamines, hit the top slot on The New York Times bestseller list two weeks ago, and a movie deal is reportedly in the works. (It has since dropped to No. 4, behind a memoir by Julie Andrews.) "Eat, Pray, Love" is listed as No. 2 on the paperback list; the quasimystical account of self-discovery became a favorite of Oprah Winfrey, who endorsed the book exuberantly.
But memoir has also suffered a string of high-profile scandals, beginning in 2006 when the website The Smoking Gun found "wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details" in James Frey's memoir, "A Million Little Pieces." This year, author Misha Defonseca admitted that her widely read "Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years," was a fake: Ms. Defonseca lived in Brussels during World War II, is not Jewish, and was not raised by wolves. Then in March, Margaret Seltzer said she had manufactured "Love and Consequences," a critically acclaimed tale of gang life in South Central Los Angeles.
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