Sunday, January 18, 2009

New "Modern Love" Policy: It's Okay With Us If You Make It Up.

At the bottom of this morning's "Modern Love" column, the NYT's Sunday Styles section has slipped in a modest but sweeping new disclaimer:

All dialogue in Modern Love is based on memory.

What does that mean, exactly? How does the NYT define "memory" -- does this mean writers can reconstruct decades-old conversations in perfect quotes, and with impugnity?

Has the NYT just enabled a new group of memoirists with faulty memories to present their stories -- without any quibbling allowed from misquoted participants in their lives who remember things differently?

Is the new disclaimer in response to specific questions raised by recent "Modern Love" quotations that may have been contradicted by others? After all, the "Modern Love" column has been a weekly fixture in the Styles section since its debut on October 31, 2004.

We've emailed our questions to Trip Gabriel, the NYT's Styles editor. Can't wait to get to the bottom of this! Meanwhile, we're relieved to no longer wonder whether, as quoted in Katherine Ruppe's "Modern Love" column this morning, her geeky boyfriend ever actually began a sentence with the words, "Circumstances aside..."

That's just how she remembers it.

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