Hello again, book nerds! It’s Emily, back to share the latest from the literary world. Now, I tend to lean a little more to fiction in my reading tastes, but my social feeds have been filled with non-fiction controversies lately (in addition to Game of Thrones takes and Toronto Raptors excitement). So, get ready for a non-fiction heavy Book Beat! Here we go!
Naomi Wolf’s Fact-Checking Failure
If you ever cringe when a classmate or coworker gets corrected during a presentation, you’re not going to like this one. Naomi Wolf was recently interviewed on BBC Radio for her new book Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love. Mid-interview, Mathew Sweet pulled an Inigo Montoya and told her a key term in her book does not mean what she thought it meant. Apparently, Wolf thought that the 19th-century English term “death recorded” meant execution, when in fact it meant that a convict was pardoned for his crimes instead of being given the death sentence. This revelation puts the premise of her book into question—yikes!
The incident has sparked a lot of discussion about responsibility in non-fiction publishing and the expense of fact-checking. Some think Wolf should have verified the meaning, while others wonder how such an egregious error got past editing. In any case, this serves as a reminder that just because something is in print, doesn’t mean it’s true.
Moby is another figure under scrutiny for book accuracy. His new memoir Then It Fell Apart contained a passage about meeting Natalie Portman and trying to date her. The actress pushed back against the dating claim in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, saying that she recalls the situation as a “much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school.” She also corrected him on saying she was twenty when they met, when in fact she had just turned eighteen.
Moby initially took to Instagram to counter Portman’s claims. In a post showing the two standing together, he says he doesn’t understand “why she would actively misrepresent the truth” and once more claims they had dated. He goes on to say that while she may regret their romantic history, his book is factual. Curiously enough, he does not address the age error in this initial post.
But after much public outrage, he posted to Instagram again, this time with an apology. While he doesn’t actually comment on the accuracy of the dating claim, he says criticisms of his inclusion of Portland in his memoir are valid. He apologizes for the distress he may have caused and says he should have told her about her inclusion in advance. He also acknowledges that he should have “acted more responsibly and respectfully” in the past given their age difference.
Marie Kondo has found great success in the non-fiction realm, and now she is ready to take on something new. The tidying master is working with author/illustrator Salina Yoon on a children’s book about friendship, tidying up, and embracing joy. The picture book is titled Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship. According to a press release, it’s the story of two friends, Kiki the collector and Jax the sorter, who need to find room for what really sparks joy: each other. It sounds like it’ll charm kids while remaining well within Kondo’s established brand.
Out This Week
Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan
Diversity Beyond Lip Service by La’wana Harris
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark