Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lies and Liars: Is It Worth It?

How does anyone in her right mind believe that she can still get away with this kind of thing in a world in which almost everyone is hooked to the internet? We live in a world of instant news, pictures are lifted from other publications and spread across the world instantly, and unusual stories like the one this woman is telling get instant attention from media outlets of all types and locations.

It is astounding that she got away with her scam as long as she did and her publisher and editor should be ashamed that they were so easily duped. Unbelievable.

In "Love and Consequences," a critically acclaimed memoir published last week, Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods.

The problem is that none of it is true.
Riverhead Books, the unit of Penguin Group USA that published "Love and Consequences," is recalling all copies of the book and has canceled Seltzer's book tour, which was scheduled to start on Monday in Eugene, Oregon, where she currently lives.

In a sometimes tearful, often contrite telephone interview from her home on Monday, Seltzer, 33, who is known as Peggy, admitted that the personal story she told in the book was entirely fabricated. 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.
Read the complete Herald Tribune article and you will be even more astounded that Margaret Seltzer believed for a minute that she could pull this con job off. Just when you think you've seen it all...here we go again.


  1. What a shame. Why couldn't she just publish it as a fictional account and give a note as to which parts were based on true incidents? It would still get the message and story out that she wanted to share, without the deceit.

  2. It does make me wonder, Jeane, but I suppose that she found it easier to get a publishing deal by representing it as a "memoir" rather than as a novel. What she hoped to do next, I can't imagine.

    According to the article her own older sister ratted her out to the publisher...wonder what that means about her relationship to her family...did she think they were deaf, dumb, and blind?

  3. Siblings took down the Unibomber too, right? ;)

    Did you see the coverage of this at The Millions? Another guilty party offered the excuse, "The story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality." As though the real world were now one great big postmodern university humanities department.

  4. My niece gave me that "it's their reality" excuse too. She's 14. They're old enough to know better. It might ring emotionally true but if it's not true then it's a novel.

    Maybe it's a version of the Munchausen by proxy syndrome.

  5. Oh good grief, this is the second one this month - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/29/AR2008022903384.html

    You think they'd have learned from James Frey's fiasco a couple years ago.

    They're all a bunch stupid, narcissistic, idiots. I wish this could be considered a crime.

  6. Woops, sorry - the full article mentioned the other author. Guess I should've read it first.

  7. I totally agree with Jeane! It would have just as much effect to write a quality novel with notes than pass on a lie.

  8. They should do like Dave Eggers did with What Is The What: Call it a "nonfiction novel".

  9. Mella, thanks for the link...interesting stuff there. I don't see any way that anyone can successfully rationalize this kind of behavior despite all their efforts to do so.

  10. Interesting point, Carrie. The article reads as if the woman really identified with these people and "wanted" to be one of them.

  11. I agree, Maggie...it would have made an interesting novel. Heck, that's what she wrote...

  12. Exactly, bybee. Now I wonder if she will ever manage to get herself published again. Will this publicity hurt her or will it make her more marketable in the long run? Does crime pay in this case?