40. Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger  by Lee Israel

This is a short (really short) autobiographical work by Lee Israel telling about the time period where she was in such dire straits that she resorted to forging letters of literary greats like Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, and Noël Coward. Apparently she was pretty good at it.

She’s a good storyteller and a talented writer so it seemed weird that she’d have to result to theft and forgery to make money. She does admit that pride did keep her from taking “real” jobs.

While this book was entertaining and well-written, I can’t help but come away with a bad taste in my mouth about the whole thing. I mean, she admits to all of this crime after she got caught by the F.B.I., she didn’t have to serve any jail time (only 6 months house arrest and 5 years probabtion), and to top it all off, she doesn’t seem to be that sorry about it. She mostly seems sorry that she got caught and that she’s now banned from the libraries she stole from.

So on the one hand it’s a really interesting and entertaining book, on the other hand, I don’t think she’s really asking for forgiveness as much as she’s trying to make more money.

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