After the news of yet another fake memoir surfaced in the New York Times this week (this one written by Margaret B. Jones–not her real name–about a childhood of gangs and foster homes that she, well, sort of didn’t actually have), I felt that it was only right that I come forward and unburden myself at last. Reporters are no doubt digging into the backgrounds of many memoir writers, and it is only a matter of time before they get to mine. To spare my family the embarrassment of a prolonged media circus, I am going to put an end to the speculation now.
I speak, of course, of my own memoir, From the Ground Up. Reporters are bound to uncover inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and outright falsehoods in this alleged account of my first year in the garden. Of course, I did not intend to deceive anyone. My account was based on my own faulty memory, impaired as it was by poor record-keeping, addiction to certain substances which shall not be named here pending the publication of my forthcoming addiction memoir, and confusion between my own life and the memoirs of other, actual garden writers, whose recollections of their own gardening adventures were so compelling that it seemed as if they had happened to me.
I take full responsibility for any confusion, disappointment, or gardening that may have resulted from my foray into the murky world of memoir/fiction, and I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.
- I didn’t actually plant a garden. There were gardens, and I saw those gardens, and I had many heartfelt conversations with other people who had seen those gardens. The experiences of these observers-of-gardens were combined into one character–that would be me–for the sake of maintaining a cohesive narrative. I believed at the time, in my addled state, that this was a commonly-accepted literary technique.
- To suggest that I spent my Saturdays toiling in my new garden is an exaggeration. Those were the early days of ER; I was totally hooked on that young Doug Ross. (George Clooney in scrubs? Hello!) I spent most Saturdays indoors with the shades drawn, hitting Rewind on the VCR remote until the little << rubbed right off the button.
- I didn’t really ever wonder what was going on in my compost pile or sneak outside in the mornings to check on the worms. Seriously, who does that?
- I have never actually tossed snails into the street and waited for a car to run them over. Please. Some of us have jobs.
- I did not nervously guide my friend Annette through the garden that summer. I did, however, guide her through the Union Square Macy’s in San Francisco, which is kind of like walking through a garden except that there are way more shoes to buy.
- My childhood cat, Gray-Baby, who died so sadly at the end? Actually a goldfish.
Again: really, really sorry about that. But in my defense, I must point out that I’m not the only one. William Alexander’s recent garden memoir The $64 Tomato? It was actually a $28 tomato. How the fact-checkers missed that one is beyond me. He kept receipts, didn’t he? Use a calculator, people. And Aurelia C. Scott’s memoir Otherwise Normal People, about going behind the scenes in the world of competitive rose growing? Based entirely on a Wikipedia entry.
But we’ve all learned from this experience. In fact, the three of us are working on a new book together:
The Fake Garden Memoirists’ Club, a sort of Devil-Wears-Prada- meets-Nanny-Diaries- meets-Orchid-Thief-meets- Eat-Pray-Love, about a group of sexy young garden writers who, stung with shame from the garden memoirist scandal, are forced along a spiritual path to confront the realities of their own backyards, find something interesting to say (preferably involving the local food movement) and peddle their unembellished horticultural adventures in the high-stakes Manhattan publishing world.
Film rights to be auctioned next week. Naturally, I will be played by Scarlett Johansson.Posted by Amy Stewart on March 6, 2008 at 5:47 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.