Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Trials And Tribulations Of Jane Daniel

Jane Daniel is the former publisher of Mt. Ivy Press who was sued by Misha Defonseca, the author of Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years - a book that has been revealed to have been a complete fraud.

As earlier indicated, I had heard about this huge injustice earlier in the year, but had not kept up with the further happenings.

I've read the entire blog previously; I am back up to Chapter Eight of the book. I plan to go to her book signing and to have her autograph my copy - I am in full support of Jane, considering the nonsense she's endured: she lost a friend, her inheritance, her book publishing company, and most importantly, her reputation.

All along the way, she was the picture of professionalism. It was through dubious legalities that she was placed in the state of which you are all now witness.

Misha's main defense is that, "She feels Jewish" - well, that's rather interesting...sometimes, when I'm eating braunschweiger, I feel a little German...but does that mean I can write a completely false memoir about a life that didn't occur and make a profit, stealing from others, some in the throes of abject poverty themselves, and not be made to pay for the INJUSTICE?!?

Am I on the wrong track here?

There are some who will say, "Oh...she's suffered enough...the loss of her reputation...the SHAME..."

Do you know what I will say to those who espouse such views?

I will say, "No - it ISN'T enough. She, for all intents and purposes, pressed the button."

What button, you ask?

Here's an excerpt from Bestseller - maybe this will make the point clearer:

My best friend, Vera Lee, was also my next-door neighbor of twenty years. We saw each other or spoke on the phone almost every day. She had listened patiently for hours as I wailed and obsessed endlessly as my marriage collapsed. Her advice: never love anyone more than they love you.

A retired French professor, Vera was eighteen years my senior. She was a bright and flirty conversationalist, a gracious hostess, intelligent, and fun. Friends of mine who met her always commented that she was “charming.” I admired her tremendously. She was my “Auntie Mame.” Whenever I wrote her a note I always signed it, Love, Jane.

I think she considered me an asset, too. She liked to show me off to her friends. We were the glamorous young couple — handsome, rock musician husband, vivacious, bright wife — in the mansion next door. She lived by herself on the other side of a common driveway in a cozy brick cottage that had been the gatekeeper’s quarters.

At the time we bought the big house, we were impecunious hippies who had acquired a bit of extra capital through a fluke business opportunity. When we moved in, all our worldly possessions fit in half the living room. Our friends thought we were crazy. In that era those looming, grand Victorians were called white elephants; nobody wanted them – too much upkeep. Within a few short years they would regain their original status as trophy houses.

My life and Vera’s were densely intertwined. I knew her whole family and circle of friends and she knew mine. She was a necessary fixture at my family’s celebrations. She was always with us on Christmas Eve (she, being Jewish, didn’t celebrate with her family) when we opened presents. She often made her entrance waving a flaming red feather boa and toting a bag of gifts for everyone, my kids included. I would never consider having a party without Vera.

Her lively patter was the Vaseline (her word) that kept any affair running smoothly. To encourage the flow of conversation Vera enjoyed conducting parlor games. She would ask people to pick a single word to describe themselves. It could be one word only. She was surprised that I chose “sensible.” Why didn’t you pick something more flattering? she asked. I don’t remember the word she chose for herself.

Or she’d say: You can be rich or famous. One or the other, not both. Which do you choose? She chose famous. I chose rich. She was surprised. I don’t care to impress strangers, I said, I have two kids to send to college.

Another favorite party question was, “If you could push a magic button and someone, somewhere, would die and a million dollars would materialize in your bank account, and nobody would know what you did — would you do it?” She often played this one with new acquaintances. She was smiling brightly as she asked this rather macabre question and listened intently to the answer. In retrospect I now see this game as an ominous augur.

I'm fairly certain that Vera was taken into Misha's confidence, much as Jane had been, so the story of the Million-Dollar Button should be common knowledge to all parties involved.

Understand - Misha was in complete control of her faculties when she initiated the lawsuits against the aggrieved parties - no one was twisting her arm; she knew that her account of being raised by wolves was a fabrication; yet, the lawsuits went forward, regardless.

Jane, I hope that you recover all that is forthcoming.

Misha...I haven't really any words of hate to you...I do wish, however, when you're sitting alone, someplace, somehow, that you will come to understand that what you did was WRONG.

It was not a matter of survival.

It was a matter of thinking that you were better than all around you, and that their gifts, their homes, their possessions, all were yours to do with as you saw fit.

I hope you'll understand. Maybe then, we can move forward and think about forgiveness.

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