April 15th, 2008 at 6:45 pm
An author for Lonely Planet travel guides recently admitted to not having even traveled to the country he was writing about.
In the guilty party, Thomas Kohnstamm’s upcoming book, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics and Professional Hedonism, he also admits to selling drugs, accepting perks, and enjoying casual sex in the establishments he was assigned to write about.
But don’t worry. Kohnstamm was only writing the history section for the title in question. So no harm done. Not because being physically present in a particular country is a requirement to be an expert of its history, but no one reads those parts anyway.
Kohnstamm comes, of course, from a long lineage of lying writers. There was of course James Frey, who was publicly disemboweled on Oprah after he admitted to embellishing portions of his bestselling “memoir,” A Million Little Pieces.
More recently, Margaret Seltzer confessed to making up “Love and Consequences,” her memoir about a supposed life as a foster child in gang-infested South-Central Los Angeles. And then there was Misha Defonseca, who admitted to not have been raised by wolves in the forests of Europe during the Holocaust as she claimed in her memoir.
What I don’t get about this most recent brouhaha involving Lonely Planet is that Kohnstamm claims to not have traveled to Colombia to write about said country because Lonely Planet did not pay him enough. He instead opted to do the dirty work in San Francisco.
That’s your budget-conscious city of choice? San Francisco?
No. Something is not write here.