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.Penguin Books may be on the hook for a large number of refunds and I smell a lawsuit or two.
The problem is that none of it is true.
Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in the North Hollywood neighborhood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed.
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.
But did anyone at Penguin even bother with a fact checking? If this is a memoir, it is non-fiction and should have been checked. If it was fiction, it might have made for a good story, no fact checking necessary.