This week in book publishing scandals: O.J., Augusten Burroughs |

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This week in book publishing scandals: O.J., Augusten Burroughs



I’m trying to decide which of these book brouhahas I should get worked up about, if either. First, there’s Barnes & Noble reversing the decision it made nine days ago and announcing it’ll stock If I Did It after all. B&N says it’s bowing to customers’ demands that it carry O.J. Simpson’s roman à slay, which is sad enough, but at least the retailer says it will sell the book without actively marketing it, so perhaps we should be grateful for that small concession to taste.

Then there’s the settlement of the Turcotte family’s lawsuit against Augusten Burroughs (pictured) for portraying them as horrifying loons in Running With Scissors. Both sides are claiming victory and vindication. The family is apparently getting a cash payment and, in future editions, a big apology on the acknowledgments page and the word “memoir” replaced with “book” in the author’s note. Burroughs, however, still gets to use the word “memoir” on the cover and doesn’t have to retract anything he wrote. (His explanation for the family’s umbrage at Scissors: that they simply remember events differently from the way he recalls them.) Now, I don’t know what was true and what wasn’t in Scissors, and this settlement agreement seems to blur that distinction beyond all hope of clearing up readers’ befuddlement. It’s the sort of decision that would make Oprah tear her hair out and James Frey jealous.

Can you make sense of any of this, PopWatchers? Is it worth getting outraged, or should I just throw up my hands, shrug my shoulders, and go read a good, obviously-made-up novel?