A few days ago I read an article in the NYTimes that revealed another memoir writer as a fraud. "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. The problem is that none of it is true." It turns out that Margaret B. Jones (real name Margaret Seltzer) is not half Native, did not grow up on the mean streets of South-Central Los Angeles and was not a foster child raised by an African American woman known as "Big Mom." Rather Margaret was a white girl who grew up privileged in Sherman Oaks, California, reared by her biological family and attended a private Episcopal Day School from which she graduated in the early 1990s.
Ms. Seltzer it turns out follows in a long line of other infamous writers who decided that faux truth would sell better than real fiction and penned memoirs that were more imaginary than factual. Among the most well-known are James Frey author of "A Million Little Pieces" who was publicly humiliated on Oprah's show, less well-known, but more egregious is the author Nasdijj, who fabricated out of whole cloth a miserable, abusive boyhood in migrant farm camps. Nasdijj (later revealed to be a white man named Timothy Patrick Barrus) portrayed himself as a half-Navajo who went on to adopt a son who suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, in a subsequent memoir Mr. Barrus told how he adopted a boy with AIDS, how he and his adopted son lived on the edge, and how he tried to keep his son from experiencing pain by injecting him with heroin. It was all lies, complete and utter falsehoods, stories that may have sold as passable fiction had the authors had any ethics or honesty, but instead were passed off as life stories, real experiences, which no doubt loaned them some compelling credibility and increased their audiences.