Oh, Augusten Burroughs. How far you have fallen. I devoured your memoir, "Running with Scissors." I watched the movie on-demand (even paying Time Warner a whole $3.95 for it) and laughed at Alec and Annette's crazy antics. Oh, and Gwyneth and pre-Manson Evan Rachel Wood. But now. Now. To find out that the Turcottes "are each fine, decent, and hardworking people." And that you've paid them off. Settled even. No! I haven't been so distressed since I found out that James Frey was a spoiled subarban kid who was no tougher than my grandmother.
When Oprah crucified Frey on live TV over the "lies" in "A Million Little Pieces," publishers everywhere feared what this meant for the memoir. After all, every person remembers certain events differently. As Burroughs himself writes the Turcotte family's memoires "are different than my own." The solution seems easy enough - simply change the names and sell it as a thinly-veiled autobiographical novel, "based on real life experiences."
Yes, I know that James Frey initially tried to sell his as a novel. And it got rejected again and again. But, seriously, publishers, let's think about this. Do you want to get sued? Do you want Oprah to hate you? Go the route of Jack Kerouac for "On the Road." Hell, follow in the shoes of Lauren Weisberger and "The Devil Wears Prada." And just promote the bejesus out of the author's background. People will latch on and barely notice the distinction. In fact, they'll become obsessed with identifying who these characters are actually based on. Save yourself the trouble in advance. It worked for Hemingway…until he killed himself.
Love and Kisses,