Wedding Woes

My new guy writes about my past

Dear Prudence,
Four years ago, my husband of nearly 20 years came home, told me he didn’t want to be married any longer, and moved out that day. In the tumultuous aftermath, I became involved with a man who was a starving artist and going though an extremely difficult period of his own life. Subsequently, said artist published his first book, which received much acclaim including becoming a New York Times best-seller. He has since written a second book—heralded as “one of the most anticipated of the year”—which will hit the bookstores this month. In it he writes of our time together, including passages about my sorrow and the actions of my former spouse. The book is kind and tender toward me, and having my story told by a talented author has been extraordinary. While my ex-husband is not named, my first name is used in the book and it is dedicated to me. I have arrived at a reasonable working relationship with my former spouse and we are the parents of a young adult child. My question is: Do I have an ethical obligation to inform my former spouse there are unflattering passages being printed about him?

—It’s Not Fiction

Re: My new guy writes about my past

  • Wow. 

    I don't - I - Wow. 

    I don't write about my husband. Ever. I'm getting the feeling this "artist" (don't get me started) is a memoirist? Maybe? It seems like he's writing non-fiction from the letter, at any rate, and I would be mightily unhappy to be in someone's memoir, but whatever, I'm not her. 

    I also don't dedicate by name - only initials - unless I'm specifically asked to do so. Acknowledgments are for full names, because no one reads them, but if they do, it's all pretty professional. Dedications...aren't, really. 

    I think she needs to tell the ex. She should have told him as soon as it came up, as soon as she knew, IMO. And I hope this "artist" has his legal bases covered, because if I were the ex? I might be hiring a lawyer, depending on what was written. 
  • This sounds like one of those "never date a comedian" type of stories. Everything is potential material.
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  • My boss has taught me the matra "bosses don't like surprises"

    I think that applies to ex-spouses too.
    If mrs. conn thought that NO ONE would ever know that the ex-mr-conn was the person named, I'd say she could forget it, but since it's apparently the "this is who we're talking about" is hinted with blinking lights and a flashing arrow, I'd say tell.
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