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Author Topic: A Child Called It
Funkmistress
Deck the Malls


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The New York Times did an excellent article about Pelzer, his books and the controversy surrounding them. It paints a very suspicious picture of him. He's apparently a relentless self-promoter, extremely passive-aggressive (his former editor described him as "a professional victim") and an outright liar who claims his book was nominated for a Pulitzer (it wasn't; he merely submitted it). The article calls pretty much his entire account into question.

quote:
A close reading of Pelzer's books leaves other readers with the impression that they may not be entirely true. Pelzer has an exquisite recall of his abuse, but almost no recall of anything that would authenticate that abuse. His mother was of ''average size and appearance,'' he writes. ''I never could remember the color of her hair or eyes.'' Yet he recalls distinctly his childhood bruises: ''dark circles of purple bruises faded on top of fresh rings of blue bruises.'' He can't explain his mother's psychological motivation for abusing him but not abusing any of his four brothers, other than to say, ''She had not dealt with her unresolved issues.'' And of the six people who might have witnessed his abuse firsthand, Pelzer gives pseudonyms to the four who are still alive -- his brothers. (He refuses to give journalists their real names or phone numbers because, he says, ''I want to protect their privacy.'')
The article interviews Pelzer's grandmother and one of his brothers, both of whom deny that Pelzer was ever abused. When confronted about his brother's account, Pelzer dismisses it, saying that his brother, who has Bell's Palsy, is "semiretarded". Charming.
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Giselle
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I read "It" years ago and forgot about him until this thread was brought up again. The more I read about him the more he seems like a professional victim. His website still claims we was nominated for a pulitzer for "A child called it"."It" And on another page it says he was nominated for two? Although they don't mention what the other one is

I wonder how many more self help books he'll crank out.

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Bach_girl
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I think the ponly people that will ever know what really happened are David and his Mother. siblings do not always know what is going on w/ the others.

Sadly these stories of abuse do not sound unrealistic to me. I have known several people that lived through abuse nearly that bad- and some things that were worse. Yes- they all were mentally screwed up because of it.

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"My Very Educated Mother Just Said Uh-oh! No...Pluto..."~ Steven Colbert

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Funkmistress
Deck the Malls


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quote:
I think the ponly people that will ever know what really happened are David and his Mother. siblings do not always know what is going on w/ the others.
Maybe, but Pelzer's story is still highly suspicious. Anyone in a real position to confirm or deny the story (mother, father, grandmother) is dead, and those that are still alive deny it vehemently.

quote:
I spoke with one of Pelzer's younger brothers, Stephen, 40, who was stricken with Bell's palsy as a child and whose speech is slightly slurred. Stephen denies his mother abused David or burned him or forced him to eat dog feces. ''Please!'' he says. ''That never happened.'' As a witness to the stabbing incident, Stephen says: ''I saw mom cutting food when David grabbed her arm and got a small cut from the knife. There wasn't even any blood, yet he screamed, 'Mommy stabbed me!'''

Stephen says David wasn't ostracized from the family, but that ''he was very close to me and Robert,'' the oldest brother. ''We were 'The Three Musketeers.' But David had to be the center of attention. He was a hyper, spoiled brat.''

Pelzer's grandmother, Ruth Cole, 92, remembers him as a ''disruptive kid, only interested in himself, with big ideas of grandeur.'' She says he bragged that celebrities, like Chuck Yeager, would be at his and Patsy's wedding. ''But it was just a few family members in the garage,'' she says. ''His books should be in the fiction section.''

Stephen adds that he thinks his brother was taken away from the family because ''he started a fire and was caught shoplifting. He was out of control. Even the Air Force didn't want him.'' Stephen claims Dave was discharged on psychological grounds.

When Pelzer learned that Stephen said this, he refuted it by producing a form from the Department of Veterans Affairs saying he had received an honorable discharge. ''Everyone sees things differently,'' Pelzer says. ''Besides,'' he adds, in a claim that seemed to me to be completely untrue, ''Stephen is semiretarded.''


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sugar cooky
I Saw Three Shipments


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Sorry, this is pretty off the OT, but does anyone rembember the book about the person with dozens or hundreds of personalities? one was the gatekeeper.
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B Hamilton
Xboxing Day


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Is it When Rabbit Howls by Truddi Chase? She had one called the Gatekeeper.

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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*One* brother disputes his story. The youngest admits he doesn't know, the oldest has never said anything, and the one younger than him not only says it's true, he actually did things to egg his mother into abusing him. (He just released a book. It apparently used to have a really nasty tone, but it's been toned down.)

Anyway, the one we've proven is a liar is Stephen. (He said his brother recived a psych discharge. He had an honorable discharge and showed documentation showing that.)

The "other" brother, Richard, seems to now feel bad he would push his mother into abusing a kid. I bet Stephen feels the same way, but protects his reputation by saying it's all lies. The grandmother in the books was contradictiory: sometimes she said she had never abused her daughter (Dave's mother), other times would recount things that seem abusive to me.

I don't like the NY times article. It only talks to the two people who say his story is false, which paints a distorted image.

Maybe he says he can't remember his mother's hair/eye color so he doesn't have to describe her?

I mentioned many other people support DAve's story. And if a child was removed from the home for being uncontrollable (which would only be a voluntary relenqishment of custody, because if the state removed him they'd have sent him to some sort of detention center) seems a weird story to me.

It has also occured to me any mark Dave has that could support his story, (burn scars, ect.) people could always say they came from the fires he set himself and deny them that way.

In short, there's not enough evidence that proves his story is fake. He may have an ego (then again, an ego seems like a good survival mechanism) but that doesn't make him a liar.

OT, but doesn't When Rabbit Howls seem more fake than either Sybil's or Dave's story? Some of the stuff in there is unbelievable. The child was supposedly raped at two, which i can believe. But wouldn't that cause injury or blood loss? I know children that young are and can be assaulted, but to get through it without any internal injury sounds odd.

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Hillary K., fair and balanced
Deck the Malls


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I read somewhere that two of Truddi Chase's siblings (a sister and her brother) said that the story was pretty much the truth when they were asked. (The stepfather was also located, but naturally denied everything.) They said that she sometimes didn't even go far enough. I'd say that while some aspects seem far fetched, her story is definatly real.

Hillary "retreats" K.

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Okay. It just seemed an awful lot, but if it's confirmed I'll concede. It's still a pretty gruesome book, though. Not for wimps.

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Funkmistress
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Anyway, the one we've proven is a liar is Stephen. (He said his brother recived a psych discharge. He had an honorable discharge and showed documentation showing that.)
If we're going to call Stephen a liar, then we might as well call Dave a liar as well, since he called his physically handicapped brother retarded. Oh, and he claimed to be a Pulitzer nominee, a claim that has been disproven numerous times. It's obvious that Dave is prone to exaggeration and bombast, meaning we should probably take his autobiographical details with a grain of salt.

quote:
Maybe he says he can't remember his mother's hair/eye color so he doesn't have to describe her?
Well ... yeah, that's what the article was saying. It's suspicious that he remembers with such perfect detail the appearance of his wounds but can't remember *at all* the appearance of his abuser. If he wants to protect his mother's identity, then he could do what every investigative journalist does and simply change her name and identifying details. But he doesn't, he simply says he doesn't remember. And that's suspicious.

quote:
It has also occured to me any mark Dave has that could support his story, (burn scars, ect.) people could always say they came from the fires he set himself and deny them that way.
I don't think so. A burn scar and a stabbing scar look markedly different.
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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Okay, really dumb question time... doesn't a medical discharge end up giving you an "Honorable Discharge" under medical reasoning? I was under the assumption that a psych discharge would be medical, and, as medical, you would have an "Honorable" discharge. The only difference would be the RE (Reenlistment) code, which would put it under "Medical: Psychological imbalance" or something similar.

Can anyone help me out here?

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Monroe
The Red and the Green Stamps


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My father received an "Honorable Discharge" from the Marines, but he was only in for part of boot camp. My mother says it was due to depression (which I believe is a possibility, knowing my father) but I have never asked him. Since I don't know where he is, I can't ask him.
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GranolaSuicideSpawn
The Red and the Green Stamps


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My bullshit detector went haywire on David Pelzer pretty early on; not because horrible abuse doesn't happen (I tragically know it does) but for many many other reasons. If you've been abused and you listen to (sorry, it's true) Eminem's song "Cleanin' Out My Closet" you feel every bit of it; you know the torment he's describing, the ambivalence, the wanting not to hurt his mother combined with hatred of her. No one who hadn't gone through it could come up with those emotions so vividly; could communicate them so utterly.

Pelzer, on the other hand, just comes off like a self-important lying asshole brat, and has been exposed as such. The people who buy into it are largely bleeding heart types who don't know the damage they are doing by embracing his bullshit and encouraging his lies. It doesn't help the cause of genuine child abuse and does much harm; anyone who really cares about victims of child abuse will hopefully insist on veracity and kick out lying scumbags like the filth that they are.

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Moosedog
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
Moosedog, teachers TODAY are required to make those notifications. I am 42, and when I was growing up, my Mother was getting her teaching license, and I can say definitively, that there was no such requirement - at least in the Midwest.


>snip<


Nowadays, if I speak harshly to any one of my daughters in the presence of a teacher, I may be reported. Overkill perhaps, but it can possibly prevent disgusting stuff like "It" from happening...

hopefully...

Pelzer is a fairly young man, isn't he? And he was in California, one of the first states to have mandatory reporting.

I know that when I was getting teaching licensure (I'm just a LITTLE older than you.) our training dealt with mandatory reporting.

I still can't believe that NONE of his teachers or guidance counselors or school nurses noticed ANYTHING. As I said, I've known people to be taken away from their parents for far less.

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VersesBatman
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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No Pelzer is in his forties I believe. This stuff happened in the late 60's early 70's. Back then people didn't rush to call social services like we do now.

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It's like they took a bunch of movies, put them in a blender and turned it on really fast!-Mystery Science Theater 3000

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incognito
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
If he wants to protect his mother's identity, then he could do what every investigative journalist does and simply change her name and identifying details.
Yeah, and if he did, then people would be saying that that's suspicious. I don't see how simply making up details would be any less suspicious than saying flat-out that he doesn't remember.
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RubyMoon
Deck the Malls


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Mental/Medical discharge from the military, circa 1970 -1975 was a "discharge under honorable conditions" -- the only difference being the re-enlistment code. This was also the same re-up code given to congentical screw ups.
Unlike a straight out Dishonorable discharge, or a Mental/Medical, a discharge under honorable conditions would not prevent you from getting a decent job when you got home. Unless of course the civilian employer knew the re-up codes.

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SweetieBird
Deck the Malls


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I've never read the book, but I just saw the first few pages on amazon.com -- there is an inconsistency within these first pages. David writes about being so hungry all the time. He implies that sometimes he would steal food from other kids' lunchboxes in the morning before school because he was so hungry. Yet he also claims that he would bring a sack lunch every day, which contained "the same menu for the last three years" ("two peanut butter sandwiches and a few carrot sticks"). If he brought two peanut butter sandwiches with him to school every day, why would he have to steal from other kids' lunches? Also, why would he be so concerned about getting something for breakfast? (He says something like "oh please just let me eat...") Couldn't he just plan on eating one of his sandwiches as soon as he got to school? And I also find it interesting that he even forgets to grab his lunch when he gets out of the car for school -- if he was really that starved, that hungry, he would be clutching that bag for dear life....

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"Bad grammar makes me [sic]" -- seen on a t-shirt

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Ghost on Toast
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
That there seems an awful lot of variety in the abusive methods his mother used and also their inventivness- ......
Speaking as a journalist who has seen a lot more than I would ever have wanted to and researched certain local cases, I can tell you there really is no end the inventiveness of people who abuse....

I am reserving judgement on the books but if they were made up, I would feel extremely cheated.

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SweetieBird
Deck the Malls


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Is this a waffle?

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"Bad grammar makes me [sic]" -- seen on a t-shirt

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SweetieBird
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I just saw on amazon.com that David's brother Richard has now published his own book, "A Brother's Journey: Surviving a Childhood of Abuse."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0446533688/qid=/br=1-/ref=br_lf_b_//104-8951652-3691160?v=glance&s=books&n=283155

"From Publishers Weekly
In this gripping, deeply troubling memoir, a follow-up to his brother David's bestselling A Child Called It, Pelzer reveals the unyielding suffering he says he experienced at the hands of his depraved mother growing up in the 1970s. Once David, the elder of the two, was removed from the household, the author, by this account, became the target of their mother's alcohol-induced rage. As Pelzer details his outward struggle to survive—learning to fall asleep with his eyes open, for example—and his internal efforts to understand and rise above his circumstances, he assaults readers with the graphic facts, told in surprisingly matter-of-fact language, about being beaten bloody for falling asleep when he was supposed to be awake, and being forbidden to bathe and forced to eat scraps from a dog bowl. Family members (including Pelzer's father), neighbors and teachers were aware of the abuse but did nothing to help, and Pelzer credits outsiders, especially his friend Ben, with finally "allowing" him to see himself more clearly. By looking back at—and then releasing—the image of the skinny, red-haired boy who wanted nothing more than his mother's love, Pelzer discovers his true spirit, which he shares courageously and selflessly here in the hope of healing himself, as well as raising awareness of and preventing child abuse."

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"Bad grammar makes me [sic]" -- seen on a t-shirt

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SweetieBird
Deck the Malls


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And this from "Publisher's Marketplace," a literary agency:

"A Brother's Journey: Surviving a Childhood of Abuse," by Richard B. Pelzer (Warner Books, 2004) First serial and film rights available. IMPORTANT: World rights to Richard Pelzer's second and third books in his memoir trilogy are now available. The titles are: "A Teenager's Journey," and "A Man's Journey."

So it appears Richard has 2 more books in the works as well.

I'm sorry -- this is such a terrible, terrible thing to say if these books are true -- but this just looks like a gravy train to me.

link to Publishers Marketplace:
http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/profschia/

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Ghost on Toast
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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British Snopesters might want to look at the Daily Mail today (Monday 24th) , where there is quite a large extract of Richards book.

He claims he suffered abuse after David was taken into care.

I think it's a series running for a few days.

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VersesBatman
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I never read the "It" series completely, but did David ever mention abuse that hs brother suffered?

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It's like they took a bunch of movies, put them in a blender and turned it on really fast!-Mystery Science Theater 3000

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by VersesBatman:
I never read the "It" series completely, but did David ever mention abuse that hs brother suffered?

Yes. In the second book he mentions seeing his brother in tattered clothing and brusises dotting his arms. He later wonders if he really saw it.

Sister "as far as I know" Ray

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Chabba
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by lexi_wades:
I've read "A Child Called It" and really disliked it. Not because I don't sympahise with Pelzer as a boy but because it felt like such a bad excuse to make a bestseller- the abuse in the book reads like a list, there is no attempt at any explanation or even much space given to his feelings the whole story is "she did this to me...she did that to me". I don't think anyone who reads it learns anything useful about child abuse other than it is very nasty (which, I'm sure most people with their heads on properly know already).
Another thing I disliked about that this particular "case" being the definitive "child abuse book" is that it is his mother (who obviously has some mental problems of some sort) is the abuser. I just find it unbalanced that out of the millions of families that exist that have a violent and abusive father figure the book has the less common abusive mother figure as it's centre. I know that's no fault of Pelzer (as he can hardly help who has abused him) but it just annoys me that the one book that becomes very famous is one that has the far less common harmful mother than having a more common harmful father. I came away from this book with the feeling that the mother was ill- but I've heard other people describing her as "evil" and "unnatural"- it makes me wonder if there would be the same outcry if the abuser was a man.

In Minnesota, where I live, there was a rather bizarre case of child murder, perpetrated by an adoptive mother, Lois Jurgens. A book was also written about this case, "A Death In White Bear Lake", by Barry Siegel. Lois was terribly abusive to her adopted kids, and one of them, Dennis, was beaten to death. He got the brunt of the abuse, much like Pelzer did. He was killed on Palm Sunday, 1965, and Lois was never convicted, until 1987. Her brother was a White Bear cop who abused his authority to stop the investigation. Only when Dennis' biological mother tried to find him 20 years later, to discover that he died in 1965, covered in bruises, did the case get re-opened. She put two and two together and was convinced he was beaten to death, and demanded the case be re-opened. Dennis' body was exhumed, and another autopsy was performed, yielding damning evidence. He died from peritonitis, resulting from a bowel punctured by a blunt trauma. Lois Jurgens was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but appallingly only served 8 before being released on parole. The book also goes into detail about some of the atrocities committed. She would force feed him food covered in horseradish, and if he vomited it up, she would re-feed it to him. She would punish him by putting a spring-type clothespin on his penis, then make him kneel on a broom handle and recite the Rosary over and over, while wearing the clothespin. And that's just for starters. Sick, sick stuff, that deserved much more than 8 years behind bars. Absolutely no justice, none. Oh, and how could Pelzer's mother get away with such atrocities without ever setting foot in a jail cell? It boggles the mind.
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VersesBatman
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I saw that on 60 Minutes. That's what I want to know. How did Mrs. Pelzer avoid going to jail?

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It's like they took a bunch of movies, put them in a blender and turned it on really fast!-Mystery Science Theater 3000

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Funkmistress
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by incognito:
quote:
If he wants to protect his mother's identity, then he could do what every investigative journalist does and simply change her name and identifying details.
Yeah, and if he did, then people would be saying that that's suspicious. I don't see how simply making up details would be any less suspicious than saying flat-out that he doesn't remember.
No, they wouldn't. It's standard practice when writing about real people to disguise them slightly in order to preserve anonymity. No one would think twice if Pelzer did that - just slap a "This book is based on actual events. Names and identifying details have been changed..." warning on the inside cover and you're set. Since Pelzer seems to have near-total recall on everything else, that he can't remember his own mother's appearance is ludicrous.
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tip and fall
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Funkmistress:
quote:
Originally posted by incognito:
quote:
If he wants to protect his mother's identity, then he could do what every investigative journalist does and simply change her name and identifying details.
Yeah, and if he did, then people would be saying that that's suspicious. I don't see how simply making up details would be any less suspicious than saying flat-out that he doesn't remember.
No, they wouldn't. It's standard practice when writing about real people to disguise them slightly in order to preserve anonymity. No one would think twice if Pelzer did that - just slap a "This book is based on actual events. Names and identifying details have been changed..." warning on the inside cover and you're set. Since Pelzer seems to have near-total recall on everything else, that he can't remember his own mother's appearance is ludicrous.
It might be standard practice, but it also remains a target whenever the validity of a person's writing is called into question. People tend to question many autobiographies about chid abuse--Between a Rock and a Hard Place is one example. While I do think that one is false, the way people were groping for certain reasons ("Oh! Tony changed the names of his friends! That's suspicious!") was ridiculous.

People don't look twice until the work itself is brought under scrutiny for other reasons, which applies to ACCI.

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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waffles

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The Organization. Adam Haseeb Memorial Pages. My library.

"There can't be a war on Christmas. Even Cambridge has decorations up!" - an observation I made

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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waffles again

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The Organization. Adam Haseeb Memorial Pages. My library.

"There can't be a war on Christmas. Even Cambridge has decorations up!" - an observation I made

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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a third helping of waffles

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The Organization. Adam Haseeb Memorial Pages. My library.

"There can't be a war on Christmas. Even Cambridge has decorations up!" - an observation I made

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by tip and fall:
quote:
Originally posted by Funkmistress:
quote:
Originally posted by incognito:
quote:
If he wants to protect his mother's identity, then he could do what every investigative journalist does and simply change her name and identifying details.
Yeah, and if he did, then people would be saying that that's suspicious. I don't see how simply making up details would be any less suspicious than saying flat-out that he doesn't remember.
No, they wouldn't. It's standard practice when writing about real people to disguise them slightly in order to preserve anonymity. No one would think twice if Pelzer did that - just slap a "This book is based on actual events. Names and identifying details have been changed..." warning on the inside cover and you're set. Since Pelzer seems to have near-total recall on everything else, that he can't remember his own mother's appearance is ludicrous.
It might be standard practice, but it also remains a target whenever the validity of a person's writing is called into question. People tend to question many autobiographies about chid abuse--Between a Rock and a Hard Place is one example. While I do think that one is false, the way people were groping for certain reasons ("Oh! Tony changed the names of his friends! That's suspicious!") was ridiculous.

People don't look twice until the work itself is brought under scrutiny for other reasons, which applies to ACCI.

That book is false, but it took a good piece of investiagtive journalism to prove it. No one's done that for this book. We essentially have to believe his brother (only one of them, as the others tell different stories) and his grandmother over everyone else. Unlike that book, Dave at least quotes people to back him up. Also, another of his brothers admits that his book is mostly true, in his own book. If he really wanted to just make money, he could have added that Dave lied - which would be contraversial enough that people would buy it. It's also interesting to note he never describes their mother himself. Also, Dave doesn't even describe himself in the first book. It's not until the second that we learn he wears glasses, for example.

Also, Dave's detractors (read the letters to the editor in the NYT after that article came out) say some pretty amazing things. One I remember clearly was someone saying "I began to root for the mother." Now, how is that going to help your own case?

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The Organization. Adam Haseeb Memorial Pages. My library.

"There can't be a war on Christmas. Even Cambridge has decorations up!" - an observation I made

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louie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Hi, I don't know if anybody is still interested in this conversation, but I just read the book (A Child Called It) and happened upon these posting. The book does sound like bs, like an adult trying to make up what a child would feel like... but that might just be because of poor writing skills. A thought nagged me, however, throughout the book. Pelzer touts his resilience -he "stood up" to his mother, she didn't "win," etc. But by doing so, didn't he just prolong his suffering? Wouldn't it have been better to be a wimp and raise hell until someone took notice, or run away? I'm sure at the time, little Dave may not have seen these options. But, looking back, it hardly seems like the best survival strategy to play by his mother's rules of the game. It's amazing that Pelzer doesn't see that ...
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gingerwoman
The Red and the Green Stamps


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In the article "Dysfunction for Dollars" they the "journalist" talks about David's sister. He never had one and never mentioned one in the book. The incident the journo mentions involved his baby brother
He suggests David is a liar because he seems nervous and odd.
Helllloooo if you'd had that kind of childhood wouldn't you be nervous and odd?
And yet this item has got so much attention.
The New York Times also called Peter Jackson, the director of "The Lord Of the Rings" an Australian. He is a New Zealander through and through, so I really don't have much respect for The New York TImes.

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