It was interesting to see the Times pounce so viciously on a recently published memoir, saying that it was filled with inaccuracies, and that it was yet another example of the troubling trend of publishers trying to pass off fiction as fact.
In this case, it was today’s Times sports section that eviscerated the book “Odd Man Out,” Matt McCarthy’s memoir about the year he spent in the minor leagues pitching for the Angels rookie-league team in Provo, Utah. McCarthy, the Times writes, portrayed his teammates and coaches as a bunch of neanderthals who were generally foul-mouthed idiots. But so many basic facts in the book are incorrect — one player, for example, is supposed to make fun of disabled kids during a bus trip that took place after he’d actually been promoted off the team — that it calls everything in the book into question.
Well, isn’t it refreshing to see the Times take that position! You see, as Voice staff writer Graham Rayman has shown, the Times has a very different standard of credibility for another book that the newspaper promoted heavily — a child-soldier memoir whose factual errors are far more egregious than the things in McCarthy’s little book about baseball.
McCarthy has apparently invented some unflattering stories about his colleagues — that they faked injuries to get rest, for example, or cried when he left the team.
Ishmael Beah, on the other hand, in his book “A Long Way Gone” invented the murder of six children in a UNICEF rescue camp.
A team of Australian journalists found serious problems with Beah’s account of life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone, but were unable to get Beah to answer their questions. The Voice‘s Rayman managed to confront Beah with the problems with his book, but the author provided only mealy-mouthed answers.
Still, the Times, which has pushed Beah’s memoir in a big way, has hardly acknowledged that there’s any question about the bestseller, and certainly hasn’t investigated the book’s problems the way they went after McCarthy’s yarn about minor league baseball, putting three reporters on it and going so far as to check the book against published box scores.
Apparently, a major book about child murder isn’t worth that kind of scrutiny. At least at the Times.