James Frey, who co-wrote The Lorien Legacies, found himself in the hot seat after the publication of his bestselling memoir, ""A Million Little Pieces"" eleven years ago. The author was accused of fabrication, even embellished some chapters. He denied it until Oprah Winfrey invited him to her (now-defunct) talk show. His literary manager dropped him after his confession. Frey's career didn't take a nosedive afterward. The public didn't throw stones on him (via social media). It turned out to be a bittersweet experience for Frey, and opinion editorial columnists couldn't help but weighed their opinion on Winfrey's verbal annihilation of Frey.
This would be a new low, yet artists (like Frey) were allowed to do some liberties on their works. It wouldn't be an issue if he didn't allow himself to be interviewed by the likes of Winfrey. Then again, how many artists would get this chance. Any kind of opportunity. F. Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote about the Jazz Age (or the emptiness behind the glitter), was able to pen a short story similar to Frey's case. First published in 1920, the New Yorker re-printed it almost a century later. The editor of the Fiction Section knew that there wasn't much difference between then and now. However, "The I. O. U." could shock modern-day readers about the level of cynicism that Fitzgerald revealed in his amusing piece. It might be the war.
If I were a publisher
"I would rather bring out a book that had an advance sale of five hundred thousand copies than having discovered Samuel Butler, Theodore Dreiser, and James Branch Cabell in one year."
“The Aristocracy of the Spirit World” took the East Coast by storm. Psychic research was a hot topic of conversation during that time, and Dr. Harden, the author of the book, was a psychic research man. The publisher of the book was the narrator of this strange tale, and it would be understandable why he refused to reveal his real name. Dr. Harden claimed (in the book) that his nephew was killed during the Great War. And the publisher met the young man aboard the train. It was an outrageous encounter, but it was too late to withdraw the remaining copies of the book. The publisher's reputation would be in tatters if the readers found out about the current whereabouts of the man.
Fitzgerald employed a different style, yet "The I. O. U." wasn't less good than "The Great Gatsby". It would be hard to imagine a writer like Fitzgerald to write what was such a romp. (It was also hard to imagine Edith Wharton composing a novel about the members of a far-flung community in the Wild West.) Fitzgerald's story was several pages long, but it showed the true motives of his characters who were caught in the controversy. They were practical people, and they expected anyone to stoke their fragile ego. It would be unfair to describe it as an American trait, as Fitzgerald could allure to anyone. Opportunities may bring out the worst out of people.
The publisher was about to be crucified by the suspicious public until a young man drew attention (and claim to be the nephew of Dr. Harton). Everyone would deserve a second chance. Miracles could be a matter of chance. Trust wouldn't be a virtue anymore, though.