Here’s another reaction to the faked memoir by “Margaret B. Jones,” this one from Los Angeles, where the action of the book supposedly took place. This article goes further than does The New York Times by looking at this book as “part of a long tradition of white artists impersonating or borrowing the voices and experiences of racial minorities.”
In a follow-up article to yesterday’s revelation about another faked memoir, publishers and editors defend themselves.
Yet another memoir bites the dust. Love and Consequences by Margaret B. Jones was published last week. In this memoir Margaret B. Jones claims to be a half-white, half-Native American who grew up as a foster child in the gangland of South-Central Los Angeles and ran drugs for the Bloods. In reality, “Margaret B. Jones” is Margaret Seltzer, who grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles.
Faking a memoir seems to be a growing trend:
The revelations of Ms. Seltzer’s mendacity came in the wake of the news last week that a Holocaust memoir, “Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years” by Misha Defonseca, was a fake, and perhaps more notoriously, two years ago James Frey, the author of a best-selling memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” admitted that he had made up or exaggerated details in his account of his drug addiction and recovery.
Seltzer’s identity was revealed when her sister saw an article with accompanying photo in a New York Times article last week and notified the book’s publisher, Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Group USA, that the story was untrue. Seltzer had worked on the book for three years with Riverhead editor Sarah McGrath. Seltzer’s sister wonders how a publisher could have worked so long on a project without doing any fact-checking.
The book also fooled several reviewers, including The New York Times‘s own Michiko Kakutani, who praised the “humane and deeply affecting memoir,” while noting that some of the scenes “can feel self-consciously novelistic at times.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby continues to inspire urban youth, many of whom are immigrants, with its portrayal of the American dream. The book is still required reading in half the high schools in the U.S. It sells about half a million copies a year, mostly to high school and college students.
What accounts for the novel’s continuing popularity?
teachers at Boston Latin and other urban schools, say their students see in “Gatsby” glimmers of their own evolving identities and dreams. The students talk about the youthful characters — Gatsby; Daisy Buchanan, the married woman he loves; Tom, Daisy’s husband and a onetime Yale football star; and the narrator, Nick Carraway — as if they were classmates or celebrities.
The Writer’s Almanac, sponsored by American Public Media and The Poetry Foundation, provides a poem each day, plus literary and historical notes for the day’s date. In addition to reading online, you can also sign up for a daily e-mail or listen to the podcast version.
In 1940, Chicago-based author Richard Wright published a violent first novel called Native Son. It was a huge success, and he spent the next 20 years blazing trails for other African-American writers.
Wright died of a heart attack in Paris in the autumn of 1960, leaving behind an unfinished novel he called A Father’s Law, about a police chief who suspects his son of several murders. That book will finally be published this week by Wright’s daughter.
That’s the question raised by news items such as this:
The action-adventure book Contact Harvest is on the USA Today and New York Times best-seller lists. Author Joseph Staten had never written a novel but was uniquely qualified to write this one.
Contact Harvest is the most recent book in a series of adaptations of the video game Halo, for which Staten has been writing for years.