Gwyneth Paltrow has recently come under fire over reports that her cookbook My Father's Daughter was not actually written by her. Last week an article surfaced in the New York Times alleging that a cookbook ghostwriter penned the popular lifestyle guide. Though the actress is denying it, the story recalls the early stages of some infamous book scandals. Here are six literary hoaxes that shook the publishing world.
James Frey A Million Little Pieces
Once known as a brilliant survivor, James Frey is now recognized as the man who proved you just don't mess with Oprah. Following the talk show queen's endorsement of the memoir, which purported to recount Frey's life as a drug addict, the book became a best seller. But, alas, his wave of success dissipated after the Smoking Gun released A Million Little Lies which exposed the book for what is was, an eloquent work of fiction. At the height of the scandal, Winfrey famously brought the disgraced author back on her show and let him have it.
Margaret Seltzer Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival
Seltzer's story told her harrowing struggle as a half-Native American gang member who grew up in dangerous South Central L.A. She recounted the murders that she witnessed as well as her remarkable abandonment of street thug life. In truth, the author was a privileged white woman who grew up in comfortable San Fernando Valley. Strangely enough, Seltzer conducted several interviews before her writing was exposed as fake, in which she spoke with an urban black accent.
Anthony Godby Johnson A Rock and a Hard Place: One Boy's Triumphant Story
An infamous example of the false memoir, the autobiography centers on an 11-year old boy suffering from AIDS who survived sexual abuse. The book was released by Vicki Johnson, who claimed to be his adoptive mother. Several journalists uncovered the fact that the book was a complete fabrication. What's eerie is that Johnson pretended to be the 11-year old and even faked the voice of a young boy.
Norma Khouri Honor Lost
The 2003 novel Honor Lost told the story of the author's Muslim best friend who was murdered in an honor killing after falling in love with a Christian man. Her exposure of Muslim culture supposedly led to a fatw? being issued on her life. Just a year after the book's release it was exposed as false. The 2007 documentary Forbidden Lies refuted most of the book's narrative including Khouri's upbringing which did not occur in the Middle East but rather in the U.S. Furthermore, the author was exposed as a con woman.
Helen Joan Lowell Cradle of the Deep
In 1929, silent film star Lowell penned her autobiography, Cradle of the Deep. It chronicled her journey aboard a ship, which she claimed to have lived on from infancy until the age of 17. In the end, the ship sank and she was forced to swim for miles until she was saved. The book was later exposed as complete fiction. After all, it's hard to imagine a young woman harpooning a whale and surviving a water spout.
Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time
The 2007 novel was deemed a blueprint for how the U.S should facilitate relationships with the Middle East. It told the story of a man committed to the education of women in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson claimed to have aided the development of 171 schools and survived capture by the Taliban. The book was a NY Times bestseller for four years straight and became required reading for service men bound for Afghanistan. Yet many of the stories in his books have been deemed fictitious, including his kidnapping as the Taliban was not actually in Pakistan (where he claims to ave been abducted) during the year the book was set.