I Lived with Wolves–Oh, Wait, No I Didn’t

According to CNN.com, a woman named Misha Defonseca recently admitted that she fabricated nearly all the content from a “memoir” she wrote of her childhood as a Jew during the Holocaust.

The book, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, claims that the author spent four years as a child wandering the European wilderness and being raised by wolves.

Would you believe that? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The author, who has further admitted that her name is not actually Misha Defonseca but Monique De Wael, said that the book was “not actually reality, but my reality.”

I’m going to refrain from making fun of her because it’s clear that the woman needs professional help, but the point is that there’s no excuse for even disturbed people to make up stories about their lives and then market them as “memoirs.”

A memoir, as we all know thanks to James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces screw-up, is supposed to be nonfiction. True, no one’s going to disagree with the fact that an abandoned kid raised by wolves makes a great story—but the author could have chosen to write it as such, a fiction story, without lying and possibly causing distress to the thousands of people who read her book thinking it was true.

But wait—the plot thickens. The CNN article also mentions that De Wael had a ghostwriter, which means that she didn’t actually even write the book herself. In essence, she was feeding lies to another woman whose job it was to spin those lies into a gut-wrenching memoir. As much as I love books, this whole ordeal kind of makes me lose my faith in publishers. Seriously, who would market a book as nonfiction if they knew it had been filtered through years of disturbed memory and the pen of a ghostwriter? Not me.

The article doesn’t mention what’s going to happen to De Wael as a result of making up the book, if anything, but it sickens me that she’s getting rich off a collection of falsehoods that’s been translated into over a dozen languages and made into a feature film.

Future English teachers, listen up: the difference between fact and fiction clearly isn’t being hammered into heads very well, so take it upon yourselves to teach your students accordingly.

On the bright side, I guess this means I can now start proposing my own “memoir” about a childhood spent on stilts and in lions’ mouths as I made a life for myself in the traveling circus.

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