Here’s an event tailor-made for teachers of literature. As you may have heard already, given the echo-effect of the internet, Lance Armstrong (and Penguin/ Random House) is being sued by some of his readers, including Rob Stutzman, a former aide to ex-Governor Schwarzenegger. Notably, the lawsuit claims that readers were betrayed by Armstrong because he misrepresented the facts of his life.
“’Although Stutzman does not buy or read many books, he found Armstrong’s book incredibly compelling and recommended the book to several friends,’ the lawsuit said,” according the the LA Times.
While this in itself– Stutzman’s confessed semi-literacy– might be shocking, the issue at hand is even more significant because it concerns (money aside) the status of truth in auto/biographical narrative.
Stutzman, et al complain that Armstrong’s books– because they were sold as memoirs– implicitly promised to represent the truth. Having been denied– even defrauded of– the truth-content they paid for, these readers believe they deserve some kind of compensation.
An obvious question for students of auto/biography is, “What exactly do you mean by the truth?”