Literary Lies: The Next Generation


Everyone is all in a huff over the "Margaret Jones" scandal. Her True Life story, Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival, was a fraud. She is not part Native American. She was not an abused foster child living on the streets of L.A., or a member of the gang the Bloods. She grew up with her biological parents in Sherman Oaks, CA, and went to a private Episcopal high school. While she did work with inner city kids, she interviewed a lot of them in L.A. coffee shops and pawned composites of their stories off as her own. Margaret Jones isn't even her real name. It's Margaret "Peggy" Seltzer.

So anyway, the main things that seem to be erupting from what has been deemd the Worst Week Ever in Publishing are:
1. Memoirs sell better than fiction (just like reality TV gets networks better advertising and bigger ratings). This, apparently, is something writers have caught on to. So they turn "novels" into "memoirs." Even if they aren't exactly true.
2. Publishers don't do deeper fact-checking because it could ruin the author-editor relationship.
3. Love and Consequences wouldn't have gotten the reception it did in the first place if it wasn't for the Charles McGrath connection.
4. Er, James Frey is still publishing a new book.

Frowny faces all around.

We think it would be nice if fiction wasn't so hard to sell anymore, if every woman writing about their coming-of-age experiences wasn't immediately categorized as chick-lit and designed a book cover featuring pink sparkly heels and a Cosmo, if publicists could somehow, magically, control positive hype before it resulted in hundreds of bloggers hating on talented writers, if writers could be championed without having to be Diablo Cody for it to happen, and if classic books we love weren't repackaged with stupid cartoons that look nothing like real characters just to appeal to new audiences, because it really undermines the intelligence of buyers!

These are just a few of our complaints. Margaret, we are sure, will be feeling the heat for quite some time.
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