UPDATE: THIS IS GETTING QUITE CONFUSING NOW. I WAS ON LUNCHTIME WITH EAMON KEANE COMMENTING ABOUT IT. MY ONLY TASK WAS TO SAY WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE IF PRESENTED WITH THE BOOK. I’M FAIRLY SURE G&M DID EVERYTHING I SUGGESTED.
Publishing is about risk
The risk of losing money and of a book flopping, the risk of missing the market and in some cases, the risk of believing someone you shouldn’t and taking the brunt of that when your error is uncovered. This has blown up in publishers faces recently. The James Frey episode being a glaring example of it. What seemed a true and exciting memoir was in fact an embellished, only partly true account.
There is no evidence that that is what has happened in the case of Gill & MacMillan’s recent book The High Society. In this case, it seems not to be a case of lying. By the account of RTÉ and G&M there are, at the very least, contemporaneous notes about every interview conducted for the book and accompanying TV series. That satisfies me if not others, we have always trusted journalists notes and I don’t see why we shouldn’t in this instance.
But it still must be unsettling when stories like this one emerge about a very controversial book:
RTÉ and Gill & Macmillan declined requests to see interview transcripts claiming confidentiality agreements, but they both said they remained confident about the authenticity of the material.
And when the follow up is a clip of the author on radio saying something that turns out not to be the case, its damn worrying. After all, we operate on a trusting basis with most authors and we rely on their word.
Feeling a little bad for G&M, RTÉ and Justine Delany-Wilson today, the whole affair strikes me as a concentrated effort to bring doubt onto a book that challenged the “great”, the “good” and the powerful in Ireland to face up to and tackle our Drugs problem (though the whole thing will most like sell more books).