What are the main themes for True Story by Michael Finkel.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

True Story by Michael Finkel has the main theme that of authorial redemption. It also has the motif of doppelgangers. In an ironical twist of fortune, the central character of the journalist, who has lost his job for lying, is also the author who is seeking reasons for why a murder who poses as the journalist and assumes his name is lying. With further irony, while the impostor grants exclusive interviews to the journalist, he never tells the truth. Yet truth in the form of the book on a murderer emerges from the lies that Finkel has previously told and those that the criminal Christopher Longo tells as Finkel details the history of Longo and the pursuit of the law after him. One reviewer of True Story writes,

With Michael Finkel's True Story, readers get a kind of fictional story they cannot put down at the same time as they get a work billed as nonfiction they cannot stop reading.

As Finkel chronicles the trial of Longo, he realizes how very tangled in lies this man's life has been; moreover, he becomes aware of the danger of lying and with fright finds something of himself in Longo, who weaves a tremendous web of lies to the point that Finkel cannot discern when he is truthful and when he is not. Near the end of his book, Finkel offers a heartfelt apology to his former employer:

From the first week I was fired, I knew that I owed an apology to my editors, to the fact=checkers, to the photo department, to my colleagues, and to everyone who read the West Africa article.... And so, the last thing I want to say about my Times article is this: I'm sorry.

Read the study guide:
True Story

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