A book I later found out the author lied about.
For the longest time, I had no idea what to write about for today. Like my buddy in this challenge, I thought this category was stupid. Yes, all fiction is a form of lying. I guess the real lying would be pretending they weren’t lying about it. The only book I could think of was A Million Little Pieces, which I have never read.
Then yesterday, it hit me (no doubt because sj was talking about this book).
Yes, dear reader, it wasn’t until about 10 years after I read the book and maybe 15 years after I saw the movie that I learned William Goldman had lied to me. Mock if you must, but in my defense, when I was presented with these ideas when I was young (maybe 10?), I just didn’t question them. I just accepted,ok, this dad tried to give this book to his son and the son couldn’t get into it. I then grew up, I hadn’t read the book in several years and never had a reason to question my beliefs.
I was humiliated by a friend of mine in college about this. She was the one who told me it wasn’t real. She asked me if I thought Florin and Guilder were real places too. No, I didn’t, even though I had a map of them.
I must have engaged in some cognitive dissonance to believe that Florin and Guilder weren’t real places (despite Goldman telling me that he had spoken with the leading scholar of Florinese history at Columbia University) but that Morgenstern really wrote a longer (and potentially more boring) book (I didn’t think the book would be boring. I really wanted to read Inigo’s soliloquy to the cliffs and about the bald princess’s hats). I remember writing away to Goldman asking for the Westley and Buttercup reunion scene that Goldman said he wrote, and he replied with a letter saying that Morgenstern’s estate’s attorney wouldn’t let him send it. It did always puzzle me why Morgenstern’s name wasn’t on the book but Goldman’s was, but I guess my mind wanted to make sense of these puzzles, and I noted that it didn’t say “by William Goldman” or just have his name. It had an apostrophe es after his name, like it was his ownership because he edited it. That made sense to my pre-teen mind.
Later, I met someone in college (who turned out to be a lying, pretentious bag of crazy) who told me that she read the unabridged version. We were talking about the movie, and I mentioned something about how it was so close to the book. She looked at me like I was an idiot and told me that it was so different because so much was left out. I asked if she read the unabridged version, and she nodded like she was all superior.
So I went back to used bookstores to try to find the mythical unabridged version. It was then that my friend was kind enough to inform me that said person was a lying, pretentious bag of crazy and that Goldman had made the whole thing up. Yeah, she also made fun of me.
At that point, the book really lost something for me. There had been this mystery before of the stories unread and characters not developed or places not visited. There had been something charming in the story of the father translating it as he read to his sick son, and Goldman’s story of how he came to love reading. All a lie.
What was the point? What was the point of breaking up the action to tell the reader about a tennis match? What was the point of the frame story? To me, it wreaked of insecurity. That Goldman didn’t think he would be able to sell a fantasy/adventure/lovestory without presenting it as someone else’s. If it didn’t sell, he could always say “yeah, some other dude wrote it, so if you don’t like it, it’s cool.”