I can’t decide whom I distrust more in True Story: the author, a humane and thoughtful man, or his subject, Joe Longo, who butchered his wife and youngest son, then drowned his other children by tying them up in a sack and dropping them into a lake like unwanted kittens.
True Story is written by a penitent. Three years ago Michael Finkel, a rising star of investigative and travel journalism, was caught making up a story about poverty in Africa. It was not a very terrible crime; he only invented bits of the piece (it was still ‘writerly’ truth, even if not ‘journalistic’, he insists), but the result hit him badly. He was sacked from the New York Times, humiliated in the gossip columns, shunned by all and, only 33, retired to his ranch in the Montana mountains to nurse his blushes.