Posting to Autocat concerning the story about Alex Malarkey’s The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven
On 20/01/2015 8.14, Moore, Richard wrote:
This sort of invites the question, why wasn’t it classed as fiction in the first place?
Of course, catalogers are supposed to be “unbiased” which actually means accepting any premises of the item we are cataloging. So, if a book claims to be a non-fictional record of travels with space aliens into Alpha Centuri, or people who talk with elves, or that the ghost of Mozart took them over and wrote a new symphony, as professionals we are not supposed to question that. So, this story of a young boy who went to heaven and returned had to be cataloged as if it were non-fiction, no matter what were the opinions of the cataloger.
Just because something has been proven wrong, or even was completely made-up–which happens quite often, as for example, Harry Houdini unmasked many spiritualists, but even today in science and journalism (e.g. the Jayson Blair debacle at the NY Times), does it mean that an item, cataloged under the conditions I described, should be reconsidered as fiction? Although this book turned out to be a lie or falsified, it did not portray itself as fiction.
One of the most famous of this type of deception is “Papillon” by Henri Charrière, which was made into a great movie with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. All made up, but I see it is still classed in HV at LC.
I would hesitate re-classing as fiction, because it is not. It turned out to be an untruth which is something entirely different from “fiction”.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if something is fiction vs. non-fiction, but that’s why we get paid the big money(!).