Lying Travel Writer Rewarded With Book Deal
How's this for a reversal: A Lonely Planet writer claims he plagiarized and fabricated big chunks of travel guides, but his editors responded by saying he didn't lie as bad as he claims. Also, instead of being driven into literary infamy like, say, James Frey or Margaret Seltzer, the lying writer was instead rewarded with a contract to write a book about his deception, which has just been published. Writer Thomas Kohnstamm was the victim, you see: Lonely Planet didn't pay him enough, so he had to deal drugs and make things up just to make ends meet:
"They didn't pay me enough to go Colombia,'' he said.
"I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating - an intern in the Colombian Consulate.
Another author wrote, in an email:
"Why did you (management) not understand that when you hire a constant stream of new, unvetted people, pay them poorly and set them loose, that someone, somehow was going to screw you?''
Lonely Planet is standing by the accuracy of its guides, even though it is in the process of reviewing editions Kohnstamm worked on for accuracy. It also said Kohnstamm was hired to write about the history of Colombia, so there's nothing deceptive about the fact that he never visited the country.