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Friday, March 30, 2012

Can James Arthur Ray Read or Not?

Bestselling author can read, says State of Arizona
James Arthur Ray, formerly a guest of Oprah and Larry King, is now a guest of the State of Arizona after having been conviced of three counts of Negligent Homicide. These three deaths occurred when Ray, a star child of  “The Secret” movement, conducted a sweat-lodge-as-endurance-test near Sedona.

A questioner writes in about Ray’s literacy status.  So I asked the Department of Corrections to clarify Ray’s literacy status. I’m grateful to Bill Lamoreaux of DOC for providing this very prompt answer.

Lamoreaux writes to me:

    “This inmate has taken the standard Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) that all new inmates must take in order to determine if they meet the state statute-mandated 8th grade level of functional literacy. This inmate has met this standard.”

Ray’s  prison records also show certain ratings marked by his “work assignment” in Functional Literacy. There are two Ns and an S. At the end of December, his first month in prison, an N. At the end of January, an S. The end of February brought him another N.

Lamoreaux explains what those codes mean:
    “As for the ‘N’ and ‘S’, those are more commonly used as a performance rating on work assignments. ADC policy #903 defines the codes:

    1.5 Evaluation Ratings - the following disignators shall be used to identify an inmate’s performance.

    1.5.2 Satisfactory (S) - An inmate’s performance, attendance and attitude meets average expectations for the Work or Self Improvement program assignment. If one of the components (performance, attendance, or attitude) is deficient while the others are considered average or beyond average, the rating may be considered Satisfactory.  If an inmate’s attendance is deficient based on verified medical or mental health issues and there are no other deficiencies in performance or attitude, the inmate shall be considered satisfactory.

    1.5. None (N) - An inmate was assigned to, but as not in attendance in the work or program assignment for any portion of the assigned period (e.g., medical lay-in, temporary absent, etc.)”

So Ray got two “Ns” and “S” in his Functional Literacy assignment. It may be interesting to those who followed this case that he did have the opportunity to earn an “E.”

E stands for “Exceeds.” It is awarded to an inmate when performance, attendance and attitude all shoot past average expectations for the assignment.

Mr. “Play Full On!” has not yet earned any Es that we know of.

But then, he hasn’t earned any Us either.

“U” stands for “Unsatisfactory.”  Two or more of the three evaluation areas fall below expectations? Slap a U on it.  If just one of the three falls so low that it “overwhelms the others” (which may still be in good standing).

So now we know two things:
1) James Arthur Ray has already met his state mandated Functinal Literacy requirements
2) James Arthur Ray is an average performer in prison.

Thanks much for asking. If I get further details, I will post them.


Going to jail, buying documents, and everything else it takes to get this kind of info for the blog takes time and money! 

Every time you make a purchase here, it helps me be able to do more for you! 

Thoughts on this or any article at this site? To the next person whose comment I use for a post I will send a free signed book!  (If you post as "anonymous" for convenience, try to include an identifying website or name in your remark so no one else can claim your prize!)  For an example, please click here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How James Arthur Ray is Getting Along in Prison

ADD: After you read this post, click here for some interesting updated official information.

Lewis -- Arizona State Prison
Adjusting to prison can't be easy. James Arthur Ray had been in the state system for less than 3 months when he was found guilty of a disciplinary infraction. Seems he failed to show up for a head count in late February. The exact infraction is:
 "Disrupting an Institution Count and/or Being Out of Place - Disrupting an institution count by purposely interfering with staff, or failing to be in an assigned bed or location for count; failing to be in an assigned area; being out of place in an unauthorized area."
James Arthur Ray attends his bond hearing in Camp Verde, Arizona on February 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Jack Kurtz, Pool)Ray apparently saw the incident differently than the prison staff did. Records show he appealed the citation.

But he lost.  

"Disrupting count" is considered by the prison to be a Class B infraction. It is punishable by a loss of privileges or extra duty, and so forth.  It can also affect time served by days. If you get 3 Class B infractions, it equals a Class A infraction, which carries more serious penalties.

The former star of The Secret and Harmonic Wealth currently has a work assignment behind bars. Looks like he's teaching other prisoners to read in the "Functional Literacy" program.

His current release date is showing 10/25/13.

Convicted on 3 counts of Negligent Homicide, Ray will be serving a total of 2 years. For more on his sentence click here. You may also be interested in this post.  For more, click on the "James Arthur Ray" tag below or at left to peruse many different posts and comment discussions on this trial.


Going to jail, buying documents, and everything else it takes to get this kind of info for the blog takes time and money! 

Every time you make a purchase here, it helps me be able to do more for you! 

Thoughts on this or any article at this site? To the next person whose comment I use for a post I will send a free signed book!  (If you post as "anonymous" for convenience, try to include an identifying website or name in your remark so no one else can claim your prize!)  For an example, please click here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mike Daisey as Odalisque

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Odalisque ou Une Femme d Alger
Renoir's Odalisque...
reminds me of lies dressing up as "larger truth"  
Paste Mike Daisey's face there

Mike Daisey, New York actor/monologuist and self-appointed crusader against Apple, Inc., is so in love with his own messianic importance that he will brook nothing standing in the way of his message. Not his Chinese interpreter. Not Ira Glass. Not even his own rhetoric.

Does he remember this interview he gave at the time of his flamboyant photo opp turning in of the petitions against Apple?

 Mr. Daisey called Apple "terribly arrogant" in its PR response to the growing concerns. "Its brand is in serious jeopardy now," Mr. Daisey said. "Apple's greatest asset is their brand, and it does not take very long for a brand to be tainted. When I think of Nike even today, the second or third thing I think of are sweatshops."
Mike Daisey, I know you still don't get it. Maybe you can understand it, finally, if you use your most valued treasure, that would be your own hallowed words.  Your brand is in serious jeopardy now. You have been 'terribly arrogant.'  It does not take long for Truth to be 'tainted.'  And nothing does so quicker than lies.

In this post, I wrote about Daisey's monstrous labyrinth of self-aggrandizing justifications. I promised to give the more gentle version today. Because I have had this conversation before, with someone I respected vastly more than I could ever respect Mike I'm-the-Most-Fabulous-Fabulist Daisey.  In 2006, novelist Susan Henderson and I engaged in a thought-provoking dialogue about truth. We were each incensed at that time by the spectacle of A Million Little Lies imploding on James Frey.  However, we looked at it from opposite sides. It was at that time that I was first introduced to the concept of lying for art's sake and that otherwise ethical people could sanction this practice. I tried at that time to understand their point of view and to speak in their own language.

Here now I reprint my own essay which first appeared on Susan Henderson's website in 2006. Susan has gone on to win fantastic accolades and awards for her novel UP FROM THE BLUE.  She has given me permission to re-post her original essay here as well. She gives the caveat, "...(just make it clear it's something I wrote in 2006 because who knows if I still agree with myself). I do think it's a fascinating argument and am glad you're stepping back into that conversation."

Here below is my original essay. Hers is in the next post. In 2006, hers appeared first. If you'd like to read it in that order, just click here.

Dear Susan,

Thanks for posting your blog link at (original site).  I'm quite interested in this subject myself. So much so I'll be appearing on a local radio show in a major market tonight to comment on the Frey mess. 

For me, there's a very easy answer to your question about the prom dress story. The prom dress with the "lemon" bow.  I would absolutely call it fiction, fiction "based on a true story," if you like.  I would find it a big misrepresentation to call it non-fiction or even memoir. Easy call for me.

But obviously not an easy call for you.

And, causing me great consternation, I learned yesterday it would not be an easy call for my agent, either. 

I am quite positive my agent is a more ethical person than I am. She's just lovely and makes me feel a little grimy in comparison. So how could I find myself stomping around indignantly on the moral high ground while she lolled about like an Odalisque in the dreamy linens of artifice?

Why doesn't untruth scratch and chafe her the way it does me?  Scratch and chafe? Forget it. It strangles and sears.

As we talked, both gingerly exploring this moment of unexpected division, the only answer that presented itself to either one of us was our footing in different professions.  "You're a journalist," she pronounced early on.  "You're grounded in publishing," I said later. 

But that evening I had another extended conversation on the topic, this time with a layperson. "Lay" vis a vis both publishing and journalism.  In other words, a regular person, a normal person, a person who reads board books to her four year old and writes "honey-do" lists for her husband.  I felt a rush of delicious righteousness as she poured forth her own indignation on the whole memoir/Frey/Talese mess.  Must be sure to include Talese, because, while my layperson easily felt great contempt for James Frey, she was also appalled by "that publisher lady" on Oprah's couch. 

 It was her outrage that fueled this conversation, not mine, I gloated to see.   

This, I thought as she boiled over, is the key. Those in publishing, including my shining madonna of an agent who identified strongly with "that publisher lady", may have a valid position.  But it's a position with a large disconnect from the rest of us.  Perhaps it is well understood, within publishing circles, that memoir occupies the vivid and idealized chamber of the sultan's girl, the Odalisque.  But the rest of us expect the girl really is that pretty and the sheets are always satin.  We thought you sold us a photograph, not a spectacularly imagined painting.  We might like to buy the painting some time, but, really, we need to know first.

As for the prom dress with the lemon bow, my position is that you, the writer, need to find the rhythm in truth. It's a harder job.  "Pink" does not, very true, have the same lilt as "lemon."   As a reader, I want you to keep tapping at the keys till you find "rosebud" or "candy blossom" or "strawberry." Or till you dig deeper, ditch the bow altogether, and find truth and rhythm co-existing in the tatting or taffeta or tulle.

If you want to label it non-fiction, that is. 

If you want me to experience certain feelings about the narrator and call it memoir, I want you to bring me into those school days where the plain girl lashed out and struck back.  It's too big a portion of the truth to leave it out.  I want you to find there the candy-blossom rhythms that get your point across.  That's your job as a memoirist, as a writer, as a purveyor of truths, emotional and "essential."

As a consumer of well-crafted words, a person who buys the labor of gifted thinkers, I love the lemon bow story.  I don't need to have it slithering in as non-fiction where it doesn't belong.  Knowing that it is based on some actual experiences of the author gives it extra pique. But calling it actual, historical truth when, it fact, it deviates so much makes me feel separated from the writer because now I see the writer doesn't trust me and doesn't respect me and I want to walk away from it.

In fact, it makes me think, after all, Odalisque is just a whore.

Thanks for being part of this important conversation and posting the lemon bow story with its insertions.  It really helped me force my own thoughts to focus as well as understand the memoirist's viewpoint and struggle.  And, of course, I did enjoy the story very much on its own merits (as a story!) and the entire thoughtful post.

That's how I wrote it in 2006.  For Susan's original essay, click here. For my 2012 "brutal truths" version, click here.  Too bad I don't have a cartoonist on staff. I would love to see Mike Daisey's face pasted on Renoir's Odalisque up there.  Come on, sailor, true love, really really!

(click on a title below to buy)
Camille Kimball's books:
                 **A Sudden Shot** as seen on TV!

Thoughts on this or any article at this site? To the next person whose comment I use for a post I will send a free signed book!  (If you post as "anonymous" for convenience, try to include an identifying website or name in your remark so no one else can claim your prize!)  For an example, please click here.

Susan's Original Essay (James Frey and now Mike Daisey)

pink prom dress
Does it matter if the prom dress was pink?

This is the original 2006 essay of novelist Susan Henderson. She and I had a public conversation over the nature of truth in memoir--or in anything labeled "non-fiction--at the time that James Frey appeared on Oprah and embarrassed the entire publishing world.

With the admission by Apple critic Mike Daisey that he made up stuff in order to make Apple look bad, and his vigorous defense of his lying so we would all care about what he cares about, Susan and I both thought of the discussion we had in 2006.

She has given me permission to reprint her essay here with this caveat:  "...(just make it clear it's something I wrote in 2006 because who knows if I still agree with myself)." My response to her, which she posted on her site at that time, is here. My original post on Mike Daisey and the importance of actual truth to non-fiction writers and readers is here.

Deconstructing Memoir by Susan Henderson

I've literally been kept awake by my experience of watching James Frey's lashing on Oprah. I very rarely watch TV that's not a football game, but I tuned in and was disturbed to see journalists, rather than memoirists, commenting on the lines writers cross when telling their stories. I was also disturbed by the idea of fact hunters. Now Frey and JT LeRoy have crossed lines that don't need to be re-hashed here, but I'm interested in the mushy area of memoir as told by people really respected in the business, from Mary Karr to Tim O'Brien to Truman Capote to William Maxwell. Some published stories about their lives as non-fiction, some as meta-fiction, and some as fiction—but all drew from life and then focused not as journalists but as writers who cared about presenting their themes within the beauty of language and plot. This is the discussion I wanted to see—not a stoning but a real discussion of where we draw the lines and where is a writer allowed to take liberties in order to find the important elements in the story such as rhythm, engaging dialogue and bringing a reader into a visual world when the specifics may have been forgotten.

 (Apologies to faithful readers of my blog who like my brief entries. The truth is, in my real life I'm unbearably talkative, so much so that I have a rule with Hubby that he can go to sleep after 11pm if I haven't shut up.)

Last month, I finished writing my memoir, so this issue is important to me. Several things happened accidentally when I wrote my memoir. For one thing, it appears that I have no siblings. Now, my novel happens to have a brother in it who reminds me quite a bit of my own, but my memoir has no brother. Why? Well, that was an accident, but my memoir focuses on carrying shame into your parenting style and frankly he wasn't relevant to the story. Even if he was, I might have left him out for privacy reasons.

Now, often people are more interested in my father than they are in me because he is relatively well-known. There is no mention of this in my memoir. I don't even mention what he does for a living. This also tips "the truth" and again it was an unconscious decision. The story I wanted to write was not about growing up in a shadow of a public figure or even growing up with its share of the limelight. Again, this was left out because of the scope of the book.

Floor-Length Taffeta Short Sleeves Yellow Prom Dress 2011
Is the dress a better story when it's lemon yellow?
So let me deconstruct a story I recently published in the magazine Other Voices. It is what I consider to be a true story but I did not set out to write a "true" story nor did I sell it as one--I happened to submit it as "flash fiction". Some writer friends and I regularly prompt each other to write stories consisting of randomly chosen word-prompts. The story I sold to Other Voices was one of these stories. Each of my friends wrote a piece of flash fiction trying to use the same five words, and I remember one of those words was "lemon" and another was "dryer."

As soon as I gave some thought to the word "dryer," I was flooded with a memory of walking up the stairs to a neighbor's house because their dryer was vented near those stairs. And that reminded me of a time in my life when I had done something very cruel to the girl living in that house that smelled—as you approached it--like a dryer, and the story became about the way shame travels with you in life. (Aha, you say. A recurring theme in this writer's work.)

I'm going to post the story in its entirety here, but I'm going to cut-in when there are elements that are either flatly "untrue" or "unremembered" and why they're there. In the end, I'm curious whether this piece can be considered memoir or non-fiction and whether these are the kinds of facts people should be wasting their time either fact-checking or "correcting."

Okay—so here we go with an 827-word story I would define as "creative non-fiction" but would be happy to sell under the title of "memoir" or "fiction" because frankly I'm comfortable with either word:


NEVER THOSE GIRLS, deconstructed

I lent Anne my dress from the previous year's homecoming. She was not a pretty girl—gangly, frizzy hair, slivers of eyes—and this was the best she was going to look. I stood in her living room as her mother let out the hem [honestly, I don't remember if her mother let the hem out while I was there or if this was my mother who did it. Also, I don't know whose living room this happened in, this is simply how the story came to me] and tied a lemon bow [it was a pink bow. "Lemon" was one of the prompt-words that led to the birth of this story. Now that I correctly remember the facts, I still prefer "lemon" because I like the image better and I like having the extra syllable before the word "bow"] around Anne's waist. When Anne stepped in front of the mirror in my white lace, floor-length gown, I showed her a trick and sprinkled glitter in her hair, only a bit, and she started to cry [Did she cry right then or later? I don't know]. She seemed almost pretty for once, and I looked for a smile to see if I was forgiven, if this would make up for what I'd done to her that summer.

Each morning before we went to the neighborhood swimming pool, Lorna and I came up with tricks to play on Anne, who had begun a habit of pulling a lawn chair up to us when we were talking and waiting for a space to join in. She thought she'd become our friend.

We wanted to know—if she smoked catnip, would she pretend to be high? She did, and the next day it was into the medicine cabinet for more ideas. What would happen if we poured a bottle of ipecac in her beer? If we emptied out capsules and filled them with baking soda or crushed medicines, what would it do to her? Each time we comforted her for her bad trips, and Anne would confess—knees knocking, teeth chattering—to wetting the dining room chair during dinner and the bed that night.

We wanted to stop, but the ideas kept coming, just one more experiment to try, then one more after that. We looked so innocent those mornings at Lorna's kitchen table—my chipmunk cheeks, her dimples—crushing pills into powders. Sometimes I'd get an image of Anne in my head, vomiting pasta like a fire hose or crying as she told us she wanted to hang out the next day.

I walked up the steps to Anne's white-painted brick house. The stairs were shaded and smelled like the dryer vent. I'd always been full of ideas, I knew they'd never stop coming. I rang the bell and waited to tell her to stay away from me. [Sadly, as I remember things, this whole section is "true."]

At a wedding reception I ran into Lorna. She'd become a lawyer but looked just the same with her dimples and dark curls. "I saw Anne," she said, and pulled out her cell phone because she'd taken a picture of her with it [Okay, here is a flat-out "lie". "Cell phone" was another one of the prompt-words. But there are a number of things that it allows me to do in this story. What I want to get to is the reader's understanding that the narrator, (in this case, me) believes she is the cause of Anne looking fat and unhappy. If in the story I had made the other character describe her as fat, the reader might have been misled into thinking that other girl was saying this out of cruelty. What I wanted was for the reader to know that the girl they'd teased had become fat and I wanted to let the reader in on the horror of culpability. I wanted to get to that horror more than I was interested in slowing the pace of the story with unnecessary or potentially misdirecting dialogue]. We looked at the digital image together and neither of us said the obvious, that Anne looked fat and unhappy. Did we do that to her?

There was no reason we'd picked her. We hadn't disliked her, hadn't felt good about how she'd spiraled. We whispered these things to each other, our guilt—the knowledge that we were still those girls, never those girls. We whispered in the corner of the lobby, away from the music and the guests, holding each other near the wrist [I don't honestly remember if we held each other by the wrist but I like this and it communicates something visually and emotionally that I think is important to the story].  All the while, Anne was in Lorna's hand, staring grimly at us in our beautiful formal attire [Obviously she wasn't because there was no cell phone in the other girl's hand. Again, this cuts to the chase of about an evening's worth of conversation where two grown-ups are horrified when they finally speak together about something that had haunted them. In truth, we were much more remorseful than the story implies and we talked for probably an hour about our guilt and our wishes that the girl we'd hurt would have a happy ending. We even fantasized about her telling us off because we felt we deserved that. Now why did I leave all this out? Those of you who are familiar with my writing know that I very rarely redeem my narrator. If I let my narrator have all the self-awareness, it takes away the reader's opportunity to feel the full scope of rage. It takes away the reader's chance to feel outrage on the character Anne's behalf so I purposely left out some things that might have made a reader feel more sympathetic to the two girls (one being me) who had been cruel].  What Anne couldn't see was that I was pregnant but it was too early to announce to anyone, just something hidden deep that brought more consideration to each moment. I placed my hand between my child and Anne's stare and tried to recall what she'd said to me the day I told her what we'd done to her. What had she said?

From the dance floor, we heard clapping. The Hora dance was beginning. Lorna closed the cover on Anne's face and set her inside a purse. The guests formed a circle on the dance floor around the bride and groom, who sat in chairs, ready to be lifted. As the bride rose, I noticed a quick look of fear that she'd fall, then laughter.  [Now, did this all happen? Sure. But this was an editorial choice to end the story with a Hora dance. As a writer, I wanted to turn the story in an unexpected direction. The wedding, fact-wise, is irrelevant to the story. But it helps build an emotion that I wanted the reader to reach without the narrator (me) taking the credit. I needed to bring the cruelty and shame of the story some place without forcing the reader to have any positive feelings about the narrator.]

This is where hope lives, knowing how easily joy bursts from fear. Anne in the dress she never returned, Anne with the grim stare—maybe someone had kissed her in my dress, untied the lemon bow.  [Here I'll share some important "truths" that I purposely left out of the story. I never had to tell this girl what I'd done because she thought she was allergic to beer and drugs. I never would have been caught. I let her cry and scream at me for some time, and I apologized to her often over the remaining years we were in school together. Had I included that in the story, or had I included her campaign to get people to stop speaking to me, the story would have not held the same power I wanted, which was to put forth the idea that sometimes we hurt people with absolutely no excuses for it, and that cruelty often stays with all parties over time.]

I clapped my hands with the crowd, stepped away from the chairs in case anything came flying toward my child. Lorna was nearer the wedding couple. I waved to her, but she was busy passing a scarf to the bride.

There are things in life you can't undo. Things you set into motion, things that are now a part of the world your child will enter. The bride and groom bounced on top of the chairs, letting go then holding on to find their balance. The bride freed one hand to wave the scarf toward her groom, and the crowd burst out in cheer. I cheered, too, not even meaning to—overcome with the feeling, at least in this moment, that the world might rise above the things I had done to it.


So what of the dryer, the first image that led to the rest of the story? Suppose the house with the dryer had been someone else's house, not belonging to the Anne of this story? Suppose the house with the dryer vent was really the house where my piano teacher lived, or suppose it simply came from my imagination? Could someone write a memoir and use that as description somewhere to give the flavor of the neighborhood? Could you write a memoir in which you dress a neighbor in an outfit you remember from your own closet? Or, if you do this, do you have to go on the record as a fiction writer, or even a liar? These things—not made-up jail time or made-up ethnicities—really do interest me. Are we coming to a point where memoirists need to be  that accurate to their memories?

If you've managed to read this all the way through, I thank you for your patience. These are the choices a writer makes when shaping and editing a story. Is the story essentially a piece of non-fiction? I think so. But I cared about rhythm and momentum and word choice, and I cared about allowing the reader to feel and discover emotions rather than the narrator getting credited for remorse or self-awareness, so I added and withheld details for those reasons, and often these were not conscious decisions. To think that memory and ego don't impact those kinds of details all the time, I think, is a very false notion. And to think that memoir is synonymous with journalism is a frightening idea to me.

Thank you, Susan, for beginning this discussion in 2006 and allowing me to re-print your essay here.  To read my response to her,  click here.

Pssst! Going to jail, buying documents, and everything else it takes to get this kind of info for the blog takes time and money! Every time you make a purchase here, it helps me be able to do more for you! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Facts or Truth?" -- Mike Daisey, Apple, Foxconn


Mike Daisey doesn't trust you to make your own moral judgments. So he's going to make them for you. And for his trouble he gets to feel very self-righteous. Not to mention cash some very nice checks.

That's what I'd say if I wanted to tell "brutal truths--brutally." Oh, that's Daisey's own description of his brand of entertainment. Turns out, his "brutal truths" aren't so much "truth" as they are "what Mike Daisey wants you to believe so he can manipulate you."

Mike Daisey, in case you haven't heard, is the New York actor or "monologuist" who convinced the world of the bona fide mwhahaha wickedness of Apple and its manufacturing partner, Foxconn.  Then was caught lying about many of the material details of his presentation.

After eeking out a scrawny underfed apology "to anyone who felt betrayed," Daisey is now painting himself the victim. Public Radio was mean to him. Journalists are mean to him. Nobody's paying attention to the big bad Apple/Foxconn story anymore!  

Hey, Mike! Ya think?!

Mike Daisey press kit photo
Most of us learn the story of the boy who cried wolf somewhere around 3 or 4 years old. By the time we're teenagers, we've internalized its message and learned that NO ONE LIKES TO BE LIED TO.  In Daisey's twisted world, his lies are necessary to get people to hate what he hates (Villain Apple and Villain Foxconn).  He figures we won't hate his favorite Big Baddies unless he makes them out worse than they are.

Guess what, Mike? That's our prerogative. Conditions at Foxconn as truthfully reported by far more reliable sources than Daisey or the sadly discredited THIS AMERICAN LIFE show,* may just be lousy enough to get our attention. Or not. I only have so much moral outrage to expend upon this world and I get to choose where. You, Mike Daisey, do not get to fool me into moving your personal pet project up my priority list because you have "art" on your side. You do NOT have art on your side. You have your own ego and your own bank account on your side.

There's also a book making the rounds lately, THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT, that makes a similar argument that "storytelling" endows the right to ginger up the facts in order to make a better story. I was annoyed in the extreme when I read about this book and I gleefully give a spoiler here--
 Much of the book is taken up with emails written back and forth between a fact checker and the principal author, arguing over an article the one had submitted to a magazine employing the other. Turns out these emails are fiction, too!  But they don't tell you until the end of the book, you're supposed to be believing all along that this discussion happened in real time and the genuine emails have been "re-printed" in the book. They spring a "gotcha" on you at the end. You haven't been reading the philosophical discussion of two professionals as they struggled over Project A. You've been reading the collaborated fiction of two hacks concocting dialogue for Project B.
You're not talking about "storytelling" anymore, fellas. You're just plain telling stories.  Ask any first grade teacher what the difference is. So when the wolf really does come, as may or may not be happening in a Foxconn factory right now, all us irritated villagers turn our backs and go harrumph, we've heard that one before.

This topic is of paramount interest to me as a human being who doesn't want to be lied to, first and foremost. But as a professional journalist and non-fiction writer, I feel I can't leave my position unspoken.  My books are documented within an inch of their lives. There are detailed footnotes on many, many pages in each. Portions are written in first person and if I say I witnessed something, you can bank on it. Usually there are other witnesses to corroborate my observations. And, unlike Mike Daisey who "lost" his interpreter's phone number and called her "Anna" instead of "Cathy" when asked for corroboration by This American Life's Ira Glass, my information can be checked against real names and documents.  Click through to these posts and check them against this photo
Audio recorder plainly visible to Marjorie, Camille
--you'll see I carry a tape recorder to my interviews. If I can't corroborate with witnesses, documents, photos or recordings, I have to act as if it didn't happen when it comes to writing it up. That means there are actually MORE facts I could tell you but won't. That is the opposite of Mike Daisey's philosophy. I give you, the reader, what I absolutely am able to back up and let you decide how interesting or convincing it is. It is NOT my right to recruit you into an opinion you might not have arrived at on your own given the real facts.

It seems that Daisey gave a speech at Georgetown on Monday night to a packed audience. He gave an aggressive defense of his lying. On his own website, he whines away that he's being compared to other notorious liars like Jayson Blair, James Frey and Greg Mortenson. Geez, Mike, what's so bad about being called a liar if lying is, you know, such a great defensible thing?

Washington Post columnist Erik Wemple reports he interviewed a young woman who attended Daisey's Georgetown performance. She had arrived feeling"betrayed" but after listening to the actor's passionate excuses, had swung back to his side because he got her thinking about where the real importance is, with "the facts or the truth?"

My stomach turned when I read the end of Wemple's piece. This is the power of a gifted orator. He can have an otherwise moral and intelligent person so muddled they can make a statement like that.
Dear Young Woman at Georgetown--"Facts" and "truth" are the same thing. The truth is Mike Daisey is a liar, both proven and admitted. The facts are that Mike Daisey made a lucrative career selling information that he knew to be inaccurate for the express purpose of causing harm to Apple.
In some places, such as the occasional (ok, every) lawbook, we also call that libel, even fraud. That's not art. It's a con. I do not believe he did it out of his altruistic soul, I feel it's more likely he was motivated by the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd.

And the cha-ching of the box office.

That's what I would say if I was to write a "brutal truth--brutally." But as a matter of fact, I have had this conversation before and it involved one of the names that's listed above and causing poor Mike Daisey such chafing right now, James Frey. In 2006, I was gentle and decidedly not brutal.

Because this is an important topic that is so central to my work as a journalist and non-fiction writer, I am going to repost that discussion next.

*Kudos to Ira Glass for his honest and real apology. As an experienced producer, I feel for the position he ended up in. How could he guess a colleague would flat out lie like that? But he manned up to the bar and apologized because his show was wrong. Period. Not just to those who "might" have felt betrayed.

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Camille Kimball's books:
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Marjorie Orbin -- Where is She Now?

From deep in my private vault--
for viewers of Scorned! Bridal to Homicidal, 48 Hours, Deadly Women
"Director's Cut" extra material for just 99 cents!

Read a short sample by clicking on the post "Facing Marjorie for the First Time."

Marjorie Orbin's full story plays out in my book published by Penguin (Berkley), WHAT SHE ALWAYS WANTED.  There you can find the details of her marriages, love affairs, and the awful crime at the center of her story.   But after you read the last page, you'll be curious about Marjorie now.

Inmate 250060 M ORBIN Image
Marjorie Orbin's glamour days are over. Wearing an orange prison suit.

She continues to live her life...behind bars. She's been out of the county jail for about 2 years now and in the state system. The last time I talked to her in person she was looking forward to the transfer for a variety of reasons, one of them being inmates are fed three times a day in the state prison rather than early morning and mid-evening (no lunch) at the jail.  After settling into state prison, she wrote me that she was "happy" there.

According to prison records, she has recently had a minor disciplinary infraction. In February (2012), prison administrators report they found her guilty of illicit "barter/trade/sell."  This is a Class C infraction which can be settled with relatively minor disciplinary action including confiscation, loss of privileges, or extra duty. It can even be "settled informally."

Even with the violation, Marjorie has also recently earned a reduction in her "Risk to the Public" score. She came into the system as a maximum level 5. This is based mostly on the crime itself and other similar immutable factors.  A few days after being found guilty of the "barter/trade/sell" infraction, she was downgraded to a level 4 in her "Risk to the Public" score.

Marjorie is currently doing a work assignment, according to prison records, as a "kitchen helper."

In the Maricopa County Jail, she wore black and white stripes, see below.
Marjorie and author at County Jail

She now wears the orange uniform of the state system. There is no change, by the way, in Marjorie's sentence. For more on that, see the post on her appeal: http://camillekimball.blogspot.com/2012/01/marjorie-orbin-subject-of-my-book-what.html

For a bit about Marjorie's attitude toward her then boyfriend, click on this one:

For more about Marjorie Orbin, look for the book with the haunting red cover!

New! True Crime Short just 99 cents!
Special for viewers of Bridal to Homicidal on E! Network
Read a short excerpt by clicking on the post "Facing Marjorie for the First Time."

Pssst! Going to jail, buying documents, and everything else it takes to get this kind of info  for the blog takes time and money! Every time you make a purchase here, it helps me be able to do more for you! 

Thoughts on this or any article at this site? To the next person whose comment I use for a post I will send a free signed book!  (If you post as "anonymous" for convenience, try to include an identifying website or name in your remark so no one else can claim your prize!)  For an example, please click here.