More Room in a Broken Heart: The True Adventures of Carly Simon by Stephen Davis is slated for a release soon. But the subject of the new biography is not impressed. Carly Simon sent through her email list and posted to her website the following message yesterday:
We have been receiving a lot of questions regarding an Unauthorized biography of Carly Simon, that is coming out this month: More Room In A Broken Heart, The True Adventures of Carly Simon by Stephen Davis.
Carly wants to be sure that her fans know that, regardless of what the publisher of the book is advertising, she had nothing to do with the creation of this book and she does not support it in any way. She was not interviewed for this book. There are numerous factual errors, fictional stories, made-up quotes, and “clipped” stories from other books and magazines.
Questions about the integrity and accuracy of the book were initially raised December 11, when author Sheila Weller (Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon – And the Journey of a Generation, which was made with Carly’s cooperation and promoted on her website when it was originally released in 2008) posted on her Facebook page a link to a story previewing content from More Room in a Broken Heart that directly used an exclusive story in her own best-selling and critically acclaimed book. Regarding Davis’ book, she wrote:
What do we do with these unabashed clip-jobbers? Just roll our eyes and shake our heads, I guess. This anecdote was lifted whole (quote, verbatim) from exclusive (though, dare I say, far more nuanced) material in my book. Davis has no source notes, no bibliography, not one single author/journo acknowledgement in his whole book. Disdainful bemusement for a Sunday morning…
She later added that she reached out to the publisher Penguin/Gotham suggesting they add some kind of bibliography but simply got back a “snippy reply,” at which point she let the matter drop.
Jim Morrison’s widow Patricia Kennealy-Morrison experienced similar problems with Davis when he published Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend in 2004. In a response to Weller’s post, Kennealy-Morrison wrote:
Davis is a hack of the worst sort. Did a clip-job bio of my husband some years ago and never bothered to talk to ANY primary sources, not just me.
Several days later, entertainment journalist Roger Friedman posted an article on Showbiz411 that went into greater detail about the problems with the book. He writes, in part:
Davis makes some serious mistakes and I’d say possibly commits plagiarism. Some mistakes I’ve checked with Simon and her staff. Others I have first hand knowledge of. Davis, for example, liberally quotes from lots of interviews Simon has given over the years without ever giving proper credit or citation. Penguin Books should be ashamed of itself for not asking Davis for research attribution.
I found at least three instances of my work from pieces I’ve written about Simon in Davis’s book, without credit or attribution. I can tell you that anecdotes [...] were lifted directly from an article I wrote in 1989 for Fame magazine. Davis has simply taken the quotes either verbatim or interpolated them. There are no citations.
In addition to the ethical and potentially legal implications, the book is said to contain glaring errors and false assertions about Carly’s personal life and embarrassing problems with spelling and grammar.
Whether the author or publisher will reconsider releasing the book remains to be seen but from initial response, it appears doubtful. The Boston Globe followed up with Stephen Davis on these issues, and his response failed to address concerns over his integrity as a journalist and author:
I haven’t read [Friedman’s] insipid twaddle and don’t intend to. Any accusations of inaccuracy are agenda-driven rubbish and must elicit no further comment. Carly’s father, the founder of Simon & Schuster, understood that in publishing there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Just spell the name right.
Additionally, posts made by some Carly Simon fans to the More Room in a Broken Heart Facebook page with concerns about the book were quickly deleted and the users removed. Similar emails to Gotham Books have gone unanswered.
A preview of the book can be read at Google Books, where it currently has an average of 1 star from reviewers.