Not since Joe McGinniss began dreaming up things that Senator Edward M. Kennedy might have thought, in "The Last Brother" (1993), has there been such an elastic and accommodating definition of nonfiction as shown in Lorenzo Carcaterra's new book (Ballantine; 404 pages; $23). The story purports to be a true account of how a young Lorenzo, along with three childhood friends from New York's Hell's Kitchen, were sent to an upstate New York correctional facility, where they were repeatedly raped, beaten and tortured by four sadistic guards. Or were they? Lorenzo swears his account is true, but admits that nearly all the details in "Sleepers" are fictitious, intentionally altered to disguise his friends. The author seems surprised that anyone would question the veracity of such a disguised tale, but, says TIME's Paul Gray, details do matter. " 'Whatever' won't do as the ruling principle of a book that purports to tell the truth."
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