You’d think nonfiction writers would learn. I’m hoping this latest report — that Greg Mortenson allegedly fibbed in his book, THREE CUPS OF TEA, about stumbling, disoriented, into the village of Korphe in 1993 — is wrong. But when you have 60 Minutes questioning your “facts” and the likes of Jon Krakauer asking questions you can’t seem to (or don’t want to) answer, my big red flag starts waving.
I didn’t love his book. I liked it well enough, though, and I especially liked what Mortenson was doing to build schools for girls in the remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now I’m feeling a little sick about the whole thing. In an interview with The Bozeman Chronicle, he, in part, says this:
“The time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993. As the co-author of the book, along with David Oliver Relin, I am responsible for the content in the book. There were many people involved in the story and also those who produced the manuscript. What was done was to simplify the sequence of events for the purposes of telling what was, at times, a complicated story.”
Guess what, Greg: all nonfiction stories are “complicated.” And your answer sounds like a bunch of gobbledy-goop. It’s disappointing, to say the least. I hope you come up with something better. Something better like, maybe, telling us all exactly what transpired, particularly on the Korphe event which is, frankly, the big dramatic start of your story.
What do I believe? I believe Greg Mortenson has done good work, both raising money and building these schools. So I’m willing to give this some time to see if it all shakes out in his direction, time for him to lay out exactly how all these events transpired. But I’m worried, based on his initial responses, that it’s not going to turn out well.
What do you think about all this?