Laura Albert, the author formerly known as JT LeRoy, was found guilty of fraud by a Manhattan jury last week. Albert's book Sarah was optioned by a film company, but when Albert was "exposed" as the real author, the work somehow lost merit. Personally, I think it's a load of crap. I haven't read the book, but it seems symptomatic of our sensationalist age the author's personality and back story are more important than the work itself. The author wasn't a young hustler, working the truck stops of Virginia; the author was a mother from Booklyn Heights, and that doesn't sell.
According to the New York Times "[a]fter the revelation, the company took the position that Ms. Albert had used the JT LeRoy “brand” — the same that had attracted them — as a celebrity magnet to draw attention to her books." See? The work isn't important, only the angles that will get media attention are. Sell, sell, sell. That's why movies are so shitty these days. Sensation, not content, is of the upmost importance.
In a drastically different story, an author was assaulted when he returned to his hometown in France, because the book he wrote was a bit too real for the villagers of Lussaud.
[I]n July 2005, when Jourde, whose previous works include unflinching and controversial portrayals of the worlds of literature and academic scholarship, arrived with his family for a summer break, six villagers appeared outside his house shouting insults. Blows were exchanged and stones thrown. A car window was smashed. Jourde's 15-month-old baby was slightly hurt and his mixed-race sons were called 'dirty Arabs'.
You can't win, folks. I'm sitting here trying to think of (popular?) books that just breeze by, and all I keep coming up with is controversy. Not that literature has ever been immune from this sort of thing. Literature has power, huge power, and because of that, there will always be crazies trying to ban Potter for fear of witchcraft, and people making poor King adaptations (and King writing poor novels, but I digress). I just found those two stories an interesting comparison, coming through the grapevine when they did.
In other media, Wil Murray is coming to my town next month, and he's bringing his tight pants with him. Check out the excellent article in Toronto Life and head on down to the Loop Gallery to see what happens when you "let the paint do what it wants.*" Now, someone just has to get Lee Henderson's butt out here, for the full Alberta posse effect.
*Actual quote, circa 1998. Love ya!