MOST writers have to be grateful to Joe McGinniss, author of "The Last Brother," the story of Edward Kennedy. Mr. McGinniss has declared that it is perfectly OK to lift other historians' work without due credit.
He has also written that it is perfectly all right when writing nonfiction to put words in somebody else's mouth. In his bTC Kennedy biography, without footnotes or an index, Mr. McGinniss has declared it is up to the author to make the person come to life by inventing things that did not necessarily happen.
Mr. McGinniss has created a whole new ball game for biographical writers like myself.
Actually, it couldn't have come at a better time. I have been working on the life of Adam -- as in Genesis -- the first man. Although I have lifted heavily from the Bible, I am a storyteller and I don't have to credit Genesis in my book, or any other works from that fascinating period.
This is how my opening chapter goes:
First, the Lord made Adam out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. Then he put him in the Garden of Eden. Adam thought to himself, "This is a very nice place, but there is something missing." He wished he had a domineering father so he could ask the father what it was.
What Adam liked most about the Garden was that he could eat from any tree but the Tree of Knowledge. He had been warned if he ate from that tree he would die.
Adam thought to himself, "If He is not going to let me eat from the Tree of Knowledge, then He should at least give me a woman."
The Lord read his mind, put him to sleep, took one of his ribs and made it into a woman called Eve. While Adam slept, he dreamed of the girl next door.
As soon as she was created from the rib, Eve looked around and said, "This is a beautiful garden, and I'm sure there is something in it we shouldn't eat."
Adam heard her and thought to himself, "I think I am in trouble. I wish I had a strong father to advise me how to handle a woman."
It didn't take long for Eve to find the Tree of Knowledge. By this time both Adam and Eve were naked and had made friends with a snake.
Adam was very confused about his relationship with Eve. He longed for a rich father to talk it over with. Eve wasn't sure Adam was Mr. Right, and she said to the snake hanging over her head, "I wish I could eat from the Tree of Knowledge to figure out what makes him tick."
The snake said, "Have an apple."
"Is it forbidden fruit?"
The snake thought, "I'll lie to her." Then he told her, "No, this apple comes from Washington State."
Eve took a bite and then gave it to Adam. The minute they bit in, the Lord heard about it, and He said to no one in particular, "No more Mr. Nice Guy." The he banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
You are probably wondering where I got all these facts. I found them in books previously written on the subject. Where I was lacking a fact I did what any biographer from Simon & Schuster would -- I made it up.