Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger by Lee Israel
This breezy memoir will make all librarians twitch and shout in myoclonic horror. It details the felonious caper of writer Lee Israel who forged more than 400 letters imputed to notables like Noel Coward and the B-Is-For-Boozers literary troika of Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, and Louise Brooks.
A modest New York literary success, Israel rented a small but comfortable studio west of Zabar's while enjoying intravenous martinis and an affair with a bartender named Elaine. Israel was imprudent with money and Dionysian to the quick. Eventually flirting with welfare and desperate to stay in "restaurants and taxis," Israel found a letter written to her by Katharine Hepburn, a thank-you note for an Esquire profile. Israel sold the letter for $250.
Then inspiration struck.
One day at the library, she slid three letters written by Fanny Brice into her Keds and walked out. Fetching only $40 apiece after the dealer explained that the content wasn't great, Israel added another wrinkle to her scheme. She added a postscript to another purloined Brice letter about a new grandchild: "He has my old nose. Do I leave him an extra something for repairs?"
From there, it was a quick descent into total invention. Israel stole stationery from old notebooks in libraries and traced signatures atop the screen of her ancient Sears Roebuck television.
While the ending might strike some as a splendid artichoke of abbreviation, remember Orson Welles said that if you’re looking for a happy ending, it depends on where you stop your story. Check catalog for availability.
Submitted by Jane H. @ King