17 January 2015

Truthiness Again

Given my interest in survivor fraud (Wilkomirski, Head, DeFonseca, Khouri, Armstrong), memoir (Mortenson) and credulity I was interested to see the announcement by publisher Tyndale House that it will belatedly stop selling The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World by Alex Malarkey and Kevin Malarkey.

The best-seller is an example of the 'heavenly tourism' genre in which a child recounts a visit to heaven - typically a postmortem visit, with the deity idiosyncratically allowing the tot to return to earth with good news. The visit is presented - breathlessly - as a matter of fact, rather than belief or allegory. Elsewhere I've cruelly described another example as a form of religious kitsch.

In this instance Alex's supposed visit took place while he was in a coma after a car accident that left him paralyzed. He supposedly saw his father (the co-author) get caught by an angel - presumably you don't need a seatbelt or airbags if an angel is looking after you - during the crash.

Revelations? The gates of heaven are "tall" and "looks like it has scales like a fish". He met Christ and Satan (the latter apparently making a special guest appearance after crash-site conversation with Alex). Angels are "big and muscular, like wrestlers" ("if you didn't know they were friendly, they would be scary").

Alex has now recanted, stating "I did not die. I did not go to Heaven". Quelle surprise.

Tyndale is reported as stating
We are saddened to learn that Alex Malarkey, co-author of ‘The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven,’ is now saying that he made up the story of dying and going to heaven. Given this information, we are taking the book out of print.
Devout consumers presumably won't be starting a class action.