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Monday, March 03, 2008

Another Author Caught Lying

I wasn’t surprised by James Frey, (his opening sentences were too far out to be believed) but I didn’t expect this one.

Last week, in positive book review and a long and colorful profile in the Home and Garden section, the New York Times heaped praise on Margaret B. Jones for her affecting memoir about growing up as a gang member in Central Los Angeles.

It was all made up.

Margaret B. Jones is not really a half-white, half Native American foster child who joined the Bloods, but Margaret Seltzer, a privileged girl from an affluent family in Sherman Oaks, CA. She was outed after her sister saw the profile and called up Riverhead, the book’s publisher. Love and Consequences is a lie.

“In a sometimes tearful, often contrite telephone interview from her home on Monday, Ms. Seltzer, 33, who is known as Peggy, admitted that the personal story she told in the book was entirely fabricated,” according to an article in the New York Times. “She insisted, though, that many of the details in the book were based on the experiences of close friends she had met over the years while working to reduce gang violence in Los Angeles.”

I paid attention to this one because I am so dismayed by the killing that is taking place on the streets of Oakland and San Francisco. I thought of writing a book by following all of Oakland’s murders for a year, but ultimately decided it would be too dangerous. When I read about Love and Consequences I said to myself that this memoir was probably a much better, more effective way to shine light on all the killing that is taking place.

I was wrong on that account, as well.

1 comment:

bookfraud said...

if she had just written this as fiction or as reportage or anything but a memoir. i imagine publishers (and readers) want "the real thing" -- a participant -- rather than from a mere observer.

it really burns me as well that this writer was going to become rich and famous on the backs of others' suffering through a lie.