Consequences, yes. Love? Not so much.

March 5, 2008 at 4:13 am Leave a comment

Oh man. I am so glad I am not this publisher right now. Why? Because of this.

For those of you who don’t know, Margaret B. Jones wrote a very touching memoir about being the half-white, half-Native American foster daughter of a black family, including her involvement with gangs and drugs in South-Central Los Angeles.

Too bad her name is Peggy Seltzer, she’s actually all-white, grew up in a well-to-do family, and made up the entire thing based on the experiences of friends who had been in gangs.

Yes, it’s bad that The New York Times ran two articles (second here) on it and somehow managed to miss the fact that she was lying about her past. I really cannot believe that Mimi Read went to this woman’s house, carefully examined her lifestyle, and somehow missed that maybe Ms. Jones wasn’t all she said she was. But now they’re covering the issue again and again, and they’ll come out okay. This is probably the best book-related story all year, and at least it’s selling papers.

It’s bad, too, that editor Sarah McGrath spent three years working on this book and didn’t know. But obviously Ms. Seltzer was a seasoned liar if she could fool two Times reporters and an entire branch of Penguin Group USA. She knew her story — hell, she wrote a whole life story and appropriated it as her own!

Ms. Seltzer is essentially a combination of Jay Gatsby and Tom Ripley. And while the Times and Riverhead Books probably are kicking themselves over this whole thing (I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in that newsroom), really the only person to blame is Ms. Seltzer herself. Everyone remember James Frey? Yeah. Same deal.

Edit: Check out this article on yet another author who came clean about her fabricated memoir. Come on, people. It’s still good if it’s just a novel. Also check out this Slate article.

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Entry filed under: Musings and Essays, News.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim It just keeps coming…

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