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Memoirs

Tuesday News: Fake memoirist must pay back publisher; made-to-order libraries; preserving digital books; and 100-year old how-to manuals

Tuesday News: Fake memoirist must pay back publisher; made-to-order libraries; preserving...

Author of fake Holocaust memoir ordered to return $22.5m to publisher – In another chapter of the strange case of Misha Defonseca, the author of the fake Holocaust Memoir has been ordered by a judge to return $22.5 million that she won in another suit against her US publisher. Defonseca’s bestselling book was even made into a film, and the story of a little Jewish girl who was raised by wolves after losing her parents captivated readers all over the world. When Defonseca’s claims were found to be false — including her insistence that she was Jewish — she defended herself by asserting that “it’s not the true reality, but it is my reality”, and “there are times when I find it difficult to differentiate between reality and my inner world.”

Before the fabrications were exposed, the author and her ghostwriter Vera Lee had won $32.4 million from her US publisher Mt Ivy and its founder Jane Daniel after bringing a copyright case against them. Daniel went on to appeal the ruling, and to conduct her own research into the story, discovering documents revealing Defonseca’s date and place of birth, and that rather than “running with the wolf pack”, she was actually “enrolled in a Brussels school in 1943″, reported Courthouse News. –The Guardian

‘Your collection of books says a lot about you’: meet the creators of the bespoke library – Speaking of false fronts, here’s an article on a company that will build a library for you — for a mere few hundred thousand dollars, of course. Referring to the well-stocked library as “intelligent luxury,” Ultimate Library works with a lot of hotels to create beautiful library spaces that are meant to convey an upscale appeal. On the one hand, these folks create some stunning private libraries, but I find it sad that in some ways these are more about creating the appearance of something than actually building that thing as an authentic collection of hand selected books.

Next, the team analyses the kinds of people who are likely to stay at the hotel, their interests, how long they will spend there, where they come from and their language. Finally, Ultimate Library looks at the décor and how the books will complement the interior design brief of the hotel.

“We understand and can advise on library set up and layout, and much more importantly we understand where to go and buy fabulous books that will give that layer of intelligent luxury. We build a library that doesn’t look like it was bought off a shelf in April 2014 – it looks like it has been built up over time and has a sort of depth and longevity to it.” –Spear’s

The fight to save endangered ebooks – While some still view physical libraries as symbolic of being “civilized,” actual research libraries are working on the preservation of digital books, a process that may sound counter-intuitive, but one that is essential to the perpetuation of this rapidly growing segment of the book market. Of course, DRM and other legal obstacles problematize this essential undertaking, and, in the process, endanger the long-term survival of our digital resources. A really fascinating article, and one anyone who appreciates books in any format should read.

“You’re speaking to an institution that is in its birth pangs,” says Library of Congress project manager Carl Fleischhauer of digital preservation. He and Lynch are both preoccupied with technical questions as well as legal ones. The Library of Congress works with publishers to get DRM-free files that can be migrated to different formats over time, a luxury that rules against breaking copy protection can make dicey. It also works on developing tools to prevent content from being degraded or corrupted, including a piece of software called BagIt, which wraps content into self-contained, folder-like digital “bags” complete with a manifest listing everything that should be preserved.

As troublesome as preserving text-only files can be, it’s relatively straightforward compared to what ebooks could one day become: interactive pieces of media that blur the line between website, game, and database. Even mathematical symbols have turned out to be hard to format correctly. “Culturally, we still seem to have this sort of dichotomy in our heads,” says Lynch, between ebooks and other digital artifacts like websites and games. “We’re having a terrible time intellectually, as well as technically, understanding what preservation means for this latter menagerie of things in the digital world.” –The Verge

8 How-To Books From 100 Years Ago That Are Still (Sort of) Useful – And if you have any lingering questions about why we need to be preserving today’s books for many tomorrows, maybe some of these century-old books will convince you otherwise. Or maybe not. Personally, I think the one on how to make a shoe could be a bestseller today, and I’m especially curious to read the 1901 how-to on how to write a novel.–Mental Floss

REVIEW:  Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim

REVIEW: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim

confessions-of-a-prairie-bitch

I’ll start the confessions by admitting that I was never a major fan of “Little House on the Prairie.” Even at age 10 I knew sappy when I saw it and not ever having read any of the “Little House” books, I wasn’t invested in the series. That being said, I did watch my fair share of episodes since in that day and age, there weren’t the 500+ channel options of today. Without the snappy book title and loads of recommendations when Jane featured this in a Daily Deals, I would probably never have heard of or chosen to read this book but having finished it, I’m glad I did.

Arngrim starts at the beginning, laying out her parents’ lives and how they got into show business then proceeds to tell about her actor brother and then herself. She’s honest, painfully so at times, funny and a great raconteur. There are hilarious details of how she wowed ‘em with her snooty script reading during her audition for the part of Nellie, the inside scoop on the custom made curls she wore for the length of her time in “Walnut Grove,” her memories of the folks behind the scenes who really ran the production – learn what liquid lubed the actors and how seriously the stock was managed – and discover her take on her fellow actors. For the size cast they had, it is amazing how well they all got along and how they still consider themselves family almost 40 years later.

But don’t think that stories of Half Pint, Pa and the others are all that’s here. Alison bares her soul and her painful family past all without sounding strident or bitter though God knows she has a right to be. Readers who have drug, alcohol, rape or incest triggers are warned that parts of Alison’s story will hit home hard. Life might have been sweetness and light before the camera but the years leading up to her time on the series were awful for her.

The lessons learned on the set to speak up, look people in the eye and get outside her shy shell served her well during her school years of dodging LA gang members on the bus and sticking up for herself at home. The hijinks she got up to with cast member and good friend Melissa Gilbert are a riot to read about as they managed to make it through their teen years together.

By the age of 20 the series was behind her and I wondered what she’d done since then. Not much acting but what contributions she’s made to the lives of others. “Little House” ended just as the AIDS scourge was beginning to be seen in the US and Alison’s on-air “husband” Steve Tracey’s battle with the disease cued her next stage in life. For the next few years, she tirelessly dedicated herself to volunteering for the cause and using her Nellie notoriety to focus attention on the needs of the dying.

What happened then? Alison used Nellie one more time to turn the spotlight onto the dark of her past and work to overturn a law that, as explained in the book, is enough to make you weep. Alison had already had years of therapy by this time but by going public – on the “f*cking Larry King show!” as her father gleefully put it – she and others took on the California legislature and won a victory for the abused.

I finished the book in awe of Alison’s courage in speaking up for causes she believes in and for her willingness to open herself and her experiences to public scrutiny in order to help others as well as herself. I also appreciated her wit and humor and her ability to tell amusing anecdotes that put you there on the set of her show – all without talking herself up or others down. But she’s still honest and funny at the same time. Good memoires are an illuminating read – not just about past events but also about the teller as well and Alison’s book is well worth seeking out and spending time with.

~Jayne

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