What do James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, Margaret B. Jones’ Love and Consequence and Wanda Koolmatrie’s My Own Sweet Time have in common? None of these popular books are what they appear to be. Frey’s fraudulent drug addiction “memoir” was really a semi-fictional novel, Jones’ chronicle of her life in a street gang was a complete fabrication, and Koolmatrie was not an Aboriginal woman removed from her family as a child, as in her seemingly autobiographical account, but rather a white taxi driver named Leon Carmen.
Deceptive literary works mislead readers and present librarians with a dilemma. Whether making recommendations to patrons or creating catalog records, objectivity and accuracy are crucial—and can be difficult when a book’s authorship or veracity is in doubt.
This informative (and entertaining!) study addresses ethical considerations for deceptive works and proposes cataloging solutions that are provocative and designed to spark debate. An extensive annotated bibliography describes books that are not what they seem.