Monday, December 29, 2008

More Memoir Doubt: Angel at the Fence

This is part of a long New Republic post on December 25.

The battle over Angel at the Fence is part of a larger struggle for control over the Holocaust narrative. Scholars like Waltzer and Lipstadt are disturbed by the media blitz pushing Herman's story to the masses. "My hair is standing on edge," Lipstadt told me. "He has instrumentalized the Holocaust. This is the worst possible thing you can do on so many levels." To them, selling the Holocaust as Hollywood kitsch sanitizes its horrors. "It makes it nice," Lipstadt says. "I just wait to hear in the movie for the violins."

Salomon, the movie producer, disagrees. He believes that the mass appeal of Herman's story is precisely what makes it so important to be told. "The strength of Herman's story is in Middle America," Salomon said. "Because of the candy-coated message of this story, it has picked up resonance all over. Herman's story can do more to teach people about the Jewish experience during the Holocaust in a way nothing before has done."

From the New Republic. On Saturday, December 27, Berkley Books announced that it is canceling publication of Angel at the Fence.

And here's today's NYT update:

This latest literary hoax is likely to trigger yet more questions as to why the publishing industry has such a poor track record of fact-checking.

In the latest instance, no one at Berkley questioned the central truth of Mr. Rosenblat’s story until last week, said Andrea Hurst, his agent. Neither Leslie Gelbman, president and publisher of Berkley, nor Natalee Rosenstein, Mr. Rosenblat’s editor at Berkley, returned calls or e-mail messages seeking comment. Craig Burke, director of publicity for Berkley, declined to elaborate beyond the company’s brief statement announcing the cancellation of the book. In an e-mail message, a spokesman for Ms. Winfrey also declined to comment.

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