The truthiness problem is solved.
When you don't know how to classify your published story -- as fiction or nonfiction, memoir or novel -- you can do what Augusten Burroughs, author of Running With Scissors, did. Just do it right from the beginning, then you can skip the lawsuit part.
BOSTON --A family that claimed author Augusten Burroughs defamed them in his best-selling book "Running with Scissors" has settled a lawsuit against the author and his publisher, their attorney said Wednesday.
Burroughs and his publisher, St. Martin's Press, agree to call the work a "book" instead of "memoirs," in the author's note and to change the acknowledgments page in future editions to say that the Turcotte family's memories of events he describes "are different than my own," and expressing regret for "any unintentional harm" to them, according to Howard Cooper, an attorney for the family. He said financial terms of the settlement are confidential.
The family's lawsuit had sought $2 million in damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress. It alleged the book is largely fictional and written in a sensational way to increase its market appeal, and demanded a public retraction and an acknowledgment that "Running With Scissors" is a work of fiction. [...]
According to a statement from the family's attorneys, Burroughs' new acknowledgments note will say that the Turcottes "are each fine, decent, and hardworking people," and that the book was not intended to hurt them. [...]
The deal comes 10 months after the family said it had "mutually resolved" issues with Sony Pictures Entertainment to avoid a lawsuit over a movie based on the book.
"With this settlement, together with our settlement with
Sony last year, we have achieved everything we set out to accomplish when we filed suit two years ago," the family said in the statement. "We have always maintained that the book is fictionalized and defamatory. This settlement is the most powerful vindication of those sentiments that we can imagine."
But Publishers Lunch adds:
But in a subsequent statement released this morning, St. Martin's takes the opposite view. They call it "a very favorable settlement" and say they see it "as a complete vindication of the accuracy of the memoir." They note the text of the book remains unchanged "other than a few trivial changes to the front matter" and underscore that the book can still be described as "memoir" on the cover and elsewhere.
Burroughs says in the statement in part: "Running With Scissors is still called a memoir. It always has been a memoir, and the family expressly agreed that it will continue to be called one.... Not one word of the actual memoir itself has been changed or altered in any way. The text is exactly as I wrote it, intended it, and lived it."
Huh? Oh well, I guess that's called having your cake and eating it too. I guess the Turcotte family got enough cake to ease their wounded feelings.
Burroughs, formerly Christopher Robison, lived with the Turcottes in Northampton as a teenager. According to the lawsuit, Burroughs' entire family was in therapy with Dr. Rodolph Turcotte, a psychiatrist. In 1980, Burroughs' mother asked Turcotte to become his legal guardian so he could attend Northampton schools. His mother still cared for him, but he had a room at the Turcottes' home. . . .
If you haven't read the book, read the whole Boston Globe article to find out what the Turcottes were so upset about. (It's the turkey in the shower that's the real shocker.)