Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jones'n for Truth

At Least Bulworth Was Funny

Remember the Warren Beatty movie where his character ends up in South Central LA basking in some street cred as he attempts to avoid an assassination plot (which he instigated). Well that has nothing to do with the latest fiction posing as non-fiction but at least the fictional movie made some strong and resonate points about politics and media. If you read, as I did, the profile of author Margaret B. Jones in The NYTimes last week you will have been mesmerized by the story of her life as a human castaway adopted by a foster family in South Central, running drugs for the bloods, learning to sleep on the floor every night to dodge bullets and then emerging to actually complete college and then end up marrying an ex-gang member.

Turns out (and it's getting so that we will need to change the sections in the bookstore) it is all fake. She's but a simple, upper middle class 30 something writer, with a very vivid imagination. From the LATimes:

The author of "Love and Consequences," a critically acclaimed autobiography about growing up among gangbangers in South Los Angeles, acknowledged Monday that she made up everything in her just-published book."Jones" is actually Margaret Seltzer. Instead of being a half-white, half-Native American who grew up in a foster home and once sold drugs for the Bloods street gang, she is a white woman who was raised with her biological family in Sherman Oaks and graduated from Campbell Hall, an exclusive private school in the San Fernando Valley.
Even in the face of complete disaster and shame (perhaps she understands that redemption in America is always just around the corner), it is interesting that her reaction and that of her recent fact-starved compatriots blend self-righteousness and penance. At the outset these writers seemed to have weighed the consequences and decided that they'll make a name for themselves either way; they seem to know that any news is good news and that the notoriety is in itself valuable. From the NYTimes:

Ms. 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. “For whatever reason, I was really torn and I thought it was my opportunity to put a voice to people who people don’t listen to,” Ms. Seltzer said. “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. Maybe it’s an ego thing — I don’t know. I just felt that there was good that I could do and there was no other way that someone would listen to it.”
Are all the books fakes? I'm going to start my memoir: In it I'm Howard Hughes, mixed with Archie Leach, Basil Fawlty, Biggles and Roy of the Rovers.

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