Who Is the Bad Art Friend?

Dawn Dorland v. Sonya Larson.

In 2015, Dawn Dorland did perhaps the kindest, most consequential thing she might ever do in her life. She donated one of her kidneys and decided to share her truth with others. After her surgery, she posted something to a private Facebook group: a heartfelt letter she'd written to the final recipient of the surgical chain, whoever they may be.

But just after the surgery, when she checked Facebook, Dorland noticed some people she'd invited into the group hadn't seemed to react to any of her posts. Barely anyone brought up what she'd done, even though everyone must have known she'd done it. She wrote an email to one of them: a writer named Sonya Larson, who answered with a chirpy reply — "How have you been, my dear?"

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Dorland replied with a rundown of her next writing residencies and workshops, and as casually as possible, asked: "I think you're aware that I donated my kidney this summer. Right?" Only then did Larson gush: "Ah, yes — I did see on Facebook that you donated your kidney. What a tremendous thing!" Afterward, Dorland would wonder: If she really thought it was that great, why did she need reminding that it happened?

What happens when details about your life show up in someone else's short story? Inside the curious case of Dawn Dorland v. Sonya Larson.

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