Monday, December 29, 2008

Another literary lie

Berkley Books, a unit of Penguin Group, canceled the release of Herman Rosenblat’s memoir, "Angel at the Fence", after Rosenblat admitted he did NOT meet his wife at the Buchenwald camp during the Holocaust as he had claimed. She never came to give him apples and bread through the fence like he's been telling since the 1990s after he submitted an entry to a newspaper competition soliciting the "best love stories."

Now that he's been caught, he says he only wanted to "bring happiness to people, to remind them not to hate, but to love and tolerate all people." In that statement he also wrote, "I brought good feelings to a lot of people and I brought hope to many. My motivation was to make good in this world. In my dreams, Roma will always throw me an apple, but I now know it is only a dream."

No, Mr. Rosenblat, it was not a dream. It was a lie. And let's get this straight since you're so prone to justification and rationalization: You did NOT do this to "make good in this world."

No, sir, you embellished your story so you could win a newspaper competition.

You probably didn't imagine the story would go any further than the one newspaper--but someone read your story and the media began calling. You and your wife--how did she agree to go along with the lie?--appeared on Oprah, twice. Twice! Your story was included in Chicken Soup for the Soul, which looks for true stories--but yours is NOT true. This is an offense to all of us who have experienced truly miraculous events and shared them in print; your deceit undermines those real miracles. You also jeopardize other Holocaust survivors' stories. How dare you.

Yours was not a miracle because it never happened. You made it up to win a contest. Then when the story spread, you couldn't admit that it was embellished (to make it better so it could win). You decided to perpetuate the "other" story, the one that wasn't true, because it brought you attention, admiration, and later, a sense of nobility for bringing people "hope."

Mr. Rosenblat, you are a liar. And a selfish coward.

The publisher wants their advance back. Perhaps Oprah's people should demand reimbursement for your two guest appearances on her show. You should also return the award for the newspaper contest. I wonder who would have won instead? You stole that honor from a true love story by lying about yours.

And you make it much more difficult for people to believe the true miracles. Miraculous circumstances really happen (I've experienced them), but when someone like you lies, you not only reveal your weak character and immoral ethics ("the end justifies the means"--offering hope through a lie), you do terrible, irreversible damage to the believability of real miracles.

How dare you.

Join the ranks of liars: Margaret Seltzer, author/liar of "Love and Consequences," who fabricated her gang memoir as a white girl taken into an African-American foster home in South Central Los Angeles when she had in fact been raised by her biological family in a well-to-do section of the San Fernando Valley--and James Frey, author/liar of "A Million Little Pieces," who exaggerated most of his memoir about his drug and prison experiences in order to get published.

I hate liars.

You betray the public. And you're selfish. The "good" you think you do is false, self-serving, and short-sighted. I want authenticity, not fakery.

And the point is so important I will make it once again: your lies make it harder for us to tell and to believe true stories of miracles. Instead of hope, as you claim, you awakened cynicism and doubt, and made it much more difficult for those of us who have truly experienced real miracles to be believed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Take note, fellow freelancers!

...Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review photographer Jerry Greenberg's appeal (okay, the legalese is "denied the appeal") in his 11-year-long case against National Geographic for including 60 photos of his work in "The Complete National Geographic," a 30-disc CD-ROM compilation.
The Supreme Court denied Greenberg's petition for a writ of certiorari on Monday, which lets stand the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision from July holding that the National Geographic Society – and by extension, other publishers – have the right to reproduce their magazines' archive in digital format without paying any additional royalties to freelance photographers.
Mickey H. Osterreicher, legal counsel for The National Press Photographer's Association, assessed the situation for freelancers:
"In these terrible economic times it will now allow publishers to create and sell electronic archives of their previously published works without infringing on the copyrights of the contributors to those works. This creates a terrible burden on the ability of photographers to earn a living.”

“It will now be imperative for photographers, authors, artists, and creators to be aware of this
decision as they negotiate for the use of their work and make sure that any contract that they agree to clearly delineate those rights and limitations."
This appears to weaken the 2001 ruling in New York Times Co., Inc. v. Tasini, a case decided in favor of the authors over electronic rights.

Read the full story on this latest blow to freelancers here, and more about the history here and here>.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Free book!

To celebrate the generous spirit of the season, I'm offering a signed FREE book to the first person who follows this blog (one per person). Hope it's you. :o)

Just scroll down and look for the link on the right. See titles here.