Daniel Mendelsohn in the International Herald Tribune comments on the recent spate of fabricated memoirs, and blames not only the authors for appropriating real traumas suffered by real people for personal benefit, but also points the finger at a more worrying social trend :
We have so often been invited, in the past decade and a half, to "feel the pain" of others that we rarely pause to wonder whether this is, in fact, a good thing. ... Empathy and pity are strong and necessary emotions that deepen our sense of connection to others, but they depend on a kind of metaphorical imagination of what others are going through. The facile assumption that we can literally "feel others' pain" can be dangerous to our sense of who we are - and, more alarmingly, who the others are, too. "We all have AIDS," a recent public-awareness campaign declared. Well, no, actually we don't. And to pretend that we do, even rhetorically, debases the anguish of those who are stricken.Mark Leyner meanwhile tongue-in-cheekly outs Kafka as a fraud:
" 'The Metamorphosis' - purported to be the fictional account of a man who turns into a large cockroach - is actually non-fiction," according to a statement released by Kafka's editor, who spoke only on the condition that he be identified as E.But it's telling, is it not, that we never accuse fiction writers of appropriating "real life"?
"The story is true. Kafka simply wrote a completely verifiable, journalistic account of a neighbor by the name of Gregor Samsa who, because of some bizarre medical condition, turned into a 'monstrous vermin.' Kafka assured us that he'd made the whole thing up. We now know that to be completely false. The account is 100 percent true."