You can’t handle the truth

1 03 2008

NewsRecently, the Belgian author, Misha Defonseca, admitted that her best-selling auto-biographical work, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, is actually not auto-biographical at all. The story tells of her orphanhood during World War II, her adoption by a pack of wolves, and her slaying of a Nazi soldier in self defense. Many people had questioned the validity of the tale long before now, but anyone who had seen her in person and heard the tale as she told couldn’t do anything but believe.

Misha

“This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving,” she has said. It is true that her parents will taken and killed by Nazis when she was a young child. She was forced to live with her adoptive uncle and grandfather, who treated her as the daughter of traitors. Her memoire is meant to recount her real story, perhaps in a metaphorical manner. “There were moments when I found it difficult to differentiate between what was real and what was part of my imagination.”

Her story reminds me of the acclaimed fantasy movie, Pan’s Labyrinth, about a mistreated girl in war-ravaged Spain escaping via her own imagination.

Personally, I think more people should write fictional works under the guise that they are non-fiction. For many people, this book was inspirational, poignant, and captivating. Why would we want to rob people of those? The only failing here was letting the guise fall. Misha had a rare chance to completely change the reality in which we all live. She had the power to change history as we know it and get away with it, for the good of all.

I truly believe that her determination to make this book auto-biographical deserves commendation. The dedication it must have taken to live your life as you wish it had been is unbelievable.

Unfortunately, now the only word that will continue to be used with this book is “fake.” I linked to the book on Amazon.com earlier in the post. Notice the first review reads “Too bad it’s not true,” and gives one star out of five. That is probably the worst reason to dislike a book I have heard in my entire life. Last time I checked, fictional does not equal worthless. Furthermore, the book can still be read as somewhat metaphorical non-fiction, although clearly most people can’t handle that. So the author made a mistake. Why can’t it be seen as a good mistake?

The most important thing is that the story comes from the author’s heart. Why can’t people find value in that?

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