I’ll be on Patt Morrison’s KPCC show (89.3 FM) at around 2 pm talking about the story that broke in the New York Times this morning about a “memoir” titled Love and Consequences by Margaret P. Jones.
The book, which the NY Times reviewed in swoony terms around a week ago, followed by an equally giddy feature a few days later, tells a tale of a badly-abused, half-white, half-Native American Jones who was raised by a South LA foster family and, by her early teens, was dealing drugs for Bloods gangsters. Jones writes about how she received her first gun, a .38, for her 13th birthday, how her foster brother was shot to death by Crips, how she was healed by the love of her foster mother, “Big Mom,” and how “One of the first things I did once I started making drug money was to buy a burial plot.”
Naturally, there was talk of the sensational memoir, published by Riverhead books, being optioned for a movie.
There was only one teensy-weensy problem. “Jones” was not an abused foster kid at all but a upstreet Sherman Oaks white girl named Margaret Seltzer who was educated, not in the failing public schools of South LA, but at ritzy and private Campbell Hall of Encino.
The fraud came to light when Seltzer’s sister saw the author’s photo in the paper and called the publisher to blow the whistle.
Miz Seltzer, who says she….uh… knows some gang members, insists she wrote the book because “I was in a position where at one point people said you should speak for us because nobody else is going to let us in to talk.”
The real question is less why Seltzer fabricated the tale (we can kinda guess at that) than why New York literary types were so eager to swallow it unquestioningly, hook-line-and-sinker.
There are, by the way, legitimate voices in East and South LA who grew up during the worst of the city’s gang wars are now (like Seltzer) in their 30′s, and have talent and something important to say. But unlike Seltzer they don’t have private school educations, thus, in most cases, their talent is less readily packaged and still needs more nurturing.
Actually the white Blood girl hoax issue brings up a host of intriguing questions….some of which will likely get discussed on Patt’s show today. So tune in or download later—and let me know what you think.