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Wisconsin author says poignant memoir was fake: 'I'm sorry'

Associated Press logo Associated Press 7/3/2017

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A La Crosse author has acknowledged he falsified most of the claims in his self-published memoir.

Tristan Szente's memoir, "Becoming Me ... Again: A True Story," includes descriptions of how a 2014 motorcycle accident left him in a coma with a dozen broken bones, a concussion and second-degree burns. He wrote that a doctor told him when he woke from his coma that the authorities were trying to find the person who hit him and two police officers interviewed him.

He also described how he defeated a rare brain virus that doctors said would kill him.

The La Crosse Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/2tEsS7n ) Friday that police have no record of an accident involving Szente and have no record of any contact with him in 2014 or the surrounding years. No one called 911 on the day of the crash to report it and ambulance records show no crash victim was transported to a hospital.

Szente told the newspaper he was involved in a motorcycle crash in 2014 or 2015 but didn't report it and sought medical help days later for a concussion, burns and cuts. He declined to release his medical records but acknowledged that the hospital scene he described never took place.

He also told the newspaper he was never diagnosed with a brain virus.

"I wanted to write something positive. I foolishly and wrongfully let it get out of hand," he said. "I just kept writing. I'm sorry. I should never have done it."

Szente self-published his book through Rosedog Books and it was previously priced between $9 to $10 on Amazon.com, though it was not immediately known how many he sold. He broke his contract in April and chose to remove the book from print, saying he wanted to make substantial changes and re-publish later, Rosedog Books spokesman Michael Knapp told the Tribune.

A message seeking comment was left with Rosedog Books by The Associated Press on Monday.

Szente said he removed the book from publication because it was becoming a distraction but later added the falsifications could also be a reason for ending publication.

Oprah Winfrey threw author James Frey out of her book club in 2006 after he acknowledged fabricating parts of his memoir "A Million Little Pieces."

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Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

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