August 17, 2004
This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours

Last week the literary-minded blog world (the mind reels) got bent out of shape by Leon Wieseltier's review of Checkpoint in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. This week, however, those same watchdogs seem to have missed a more legitimate target - the Times' apparent inability to distinguish fiction from non-.

This week's non-fiction Books in Brief section featured the presumably non-fiction title Borges' Travel, Hemingway's Garage. Per the Times, Mark Axelrod's book recounts some of literature's secret histories:

…as Mark Axelrod tells it, Hemingway opened a garage in Santa Ana, Calif., a venture that inspired his short story “A Clean, Well-Lit Pit Stop.'

Axelrod reports on the philosophical quarrels between Leibniz and Newton that fueled the competition between dueling cookie franchises Choco Leibniz and Fig Newtons…

Rembrandt invented the toothpaste that bears his name not only to avoid financial crisis, but, according to Axelrod, because he was tired of painting portraits of unsmiling subjects afraid to display their bad teeth.

While the average cultural illiterate/Times editor might reasonably take Axelrod's stories for truth, perhaps the name of Axelrod's publisher - Fiction Collective Two - should have tipped someone off.

Posted in a Shallow fashion.

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