Tuesday 4 March 2008

Lying Author or Novelist?

News just in.

Another author has been caught lying in memoirs a la James Frey. Here is The Gawker spouting on the issue:
Meet Margaret Seltzer, pen name Margaret Jones, who until this week was a half-white, half-Indian gangland drug runner who grew up a foster child in predominately black South Central Los Angeles. Her memoir was hailed as a "raw... remarkable book" in the Times, won her tentative online admirers and became the 28th best selling memoir on Amazon after it was released Friday. Of course Seltzer basically made her whole "memoir" up, being entirely white, having grown up in the predominately white San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, having gone to a fancy private school and having been raised by her biological family. Her book tour was supposed to start today in Eugene, Oregon but her publisher, a division of Penguin Group, has canceled all that and recalled her books.
The New York Times review unsuspectingly put a finger on the lie:
Although some of the scenes she has recreated from her youth (which are told in colorful, streetwise argot) can feel self-consciously novelistic at times, Ms. Jones has done an amazing job of conjuring up her old neighborhood.
The editor who spoke to her and exchanged emails with Jones for over a year suspected nothing.

It's a disaster the author only has herself to blame for. It's not clear from stories whether Jones wrote other stuff. Certainly, the fake memoir was convincing enough to win critical accolades.

So, if we forgot that it was meant to be a true story, would it be any good as a novel?

Could this be the desperate act of a novelist just trying to get published?


  1. Aw, that's sad. It just needed a change of marketing, that's all. I mean, a lot of fiction starts out by saying a story is true.

  2. How desperate can an author get - perhaps she had no success selling fiction so she thought she would get through the gatekeepers with a memoir. but what a disaster. despite everything i hope she gets another chance.


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