Less than a week after Belgian author Misha Defonseca admitted to fabricating her best-selling Holocaust memoir, Margaret B. Jones revealed yesterday that her memoir, Love and Consequences, published last week by Riverhead Books, is a fake. The publisher is recalling the book—approximately nineteen thousand copies were printed—and has canceled the author's publicity tour, which was scheduled to start next Monday.
Margaret B. Jones, a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, wrote in Love and Consequences about growing up as a half-white, half-Native American foster child among gangs and violence in South Central Los Angeles. It was touted as an "unvarnished, humanizing portrait of people living in urban poverty." But none of it is true. In fact, Seltzer is a white woman who grew up in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. She never spent time in foster homes or with gang members.
Motoko Rich of the New York Times reported today that Seltzer confessed to making up the story in her memoir in a "tearful, often contrite telephone interview" on Monday. The veracity of Seltzer's memoir was called into question after the New York Times profiled the author last Thursday. Cyndi Hoffman, Seltzer's older sister, read the profile and called Riverhead to tell editors there that the story in Love and Consequences is untrue.
Riverhead editor Sarah McGrath, who acquired the book at Scribner and moved it to Riverhead, told the New York Times that Seltzer "seems to be very, very naïve. There was a way to do this book honestly and have it be just as compelling."
"I'm not saying like I did it right," Seltzer is quoted as saying. "I did not do it right. I thought I had an opportunity to make people understand the conditions that people live in and the reasons people make the choices from the choices they don't have."