Culture

The Latest Fake Memoir Continues to Undermine Authorial Authority in an Age When America Has Already Lost What Little Was Left of Its Innocence after That Game Show Scandal in the 1750s…

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The author of the best-selling auto-bio Love and Consequences goes to the back of the long line of literary fakers:

Margaret (Peggy) Seltzer of Eugene, Ore., who wrote under the name Margaret B. Jones, acknowledges that her critically acclaimed account of being raised in a black foster home in South-Central Los Angeles and following her black foster brothers into the gang life was a fabrication.

More here.

It's not immediately clear if this helps or hurts the manuscript I'm shopping around about having been raised in a Skinner Box by two ping-pong playing pigeons while becoming the first valedictorian at Hamburger University and then playing table tennis in death matches for money in Micronesia until a guy named Morrie started bullshitting me on Tuesdays. I hope not, for my reader's sakes.

Whatever the case, I salute the author for entertaining thousands of readers and look forward eagerly to her next book.

reason on literature's paper lions here.

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  1. Wasn’t that the plot of The Deer Hunter?

  2. She lives in Eugene? That alone should have tipped everyone off.

    Don’t worry, Nick. I’ll buy a copy of your book if you’ll buy one of mine.

  3. Man, those Samoans are a surly bunch.

  4. Nick, you don’t hang out with Jews. And Hamburger University only offers master’s programs in sizzleologism and fippology.
    I call bullshit.

  5. Oh, sure, all these books are fakes. The next thing you’ll tell me is that the bible is a fake.

  6. …the manuscript I’m shopping around about having been raised in a Skinner Box…

    We were all raised in a Skinner Box. That’s what the earth is. Or more accurately a Slartibartfast box. It’s all about the mice. Keep your towel dry frood.

    42

  7. Great little summary at Slate today of all the faked memoirs that are on the shelves right now.

  8. Fools! I am first to note that the wrong headline was used. It should’ve been “I was born a poor black child.”

    Focus, people, focus!

  9. Nice catch Pro Lib

  10. All these hard-knock memoirs are the literary equivalent to slowing down while passing a car crash. Ghouls supping at the buffet of other people’s pain.

  11. Is it THAT hard to put “A Novel By …” on the cover of the book, so people know it’s fiction?

  12. I was most impressed by A Million Little Fibers.

    Wanna get high?

  13. I’m so disillusioned. Nothing will ever be funny again. But for me, nothing has been funny since the Crimean War.

  14. Is it THAT hard to put “A Novel By …” on the cover of the book, so people know it’s fiction?

    But that would cut into your sales, and fawning by academics, the media, and your fans.

  15. You’re a phoney! A big, fat phoney!

  16. Did anybody else read that headline in the Movie-trailer-announcer-guy voice?

    In a world…
    where America…
    has already lost…
    what little was left…
    of its innocence…

    From the creators of That Game Show Scandal of the 1750s

    Comes a film that will undermine authorial authority like never before!

  17. How is this different from a WaPo editorial by “Angelina Jolie?”

  18. How is this different from a WaPo editorial by “Angelina Jolie?”

    It has smaller breasts?

  19. Why am I suddenly reminded of the character Cornfed Pig?

    Nephilium

  20. Warren,

    I’d be a tyrant, nay, an Evil Overlord as an editor.

  21. I thought “Evil Overlord” was part of every editor’s job description.

  22. Why does everyone want to have grown up in less-than-fortunate conditions?

  23. LT Nixon,

    Because being a victim is the only accomplishment liberals recognize.

  24. I can’t take it any more. Does no one get the “Samoans” quote?

  25. I thought it was something about Girl Scout cookies. I never laugh about the subject of Girl Scout cookies, especially during Thin Mint season.

  26. I think a lot of this is driven by publishers. It is easier to sell a “true story” than it is fiction. Authors write a good but not great piece of fiction and are told thanks but no thanks by publishers. Change that same book into a memoir and publishers start throwing offers wrapped around stones through your window. It was wrong for this woman to lie, but my guess is that had she not lied her book would have never been published or if it had would have sold very little. So, I can understand her motivation even though I don’t condone her actions.

  27. Epi – You have no faith in the essential decency of the White Man’s culture.
    Happy now?

  28. CN,

    I don’t get your reference to my reference. Are we both doing Bloom County?

  29. Eric Idle: I was happier then and I had nothing! We used to live in this tiny old tumbled-down house with great big holes in
    the roof.
    Graham Chapman: House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twentysix of us, no furniture,
    half the floor was missing, we were all huddled together in one corner for fear of falling.
    Terry Jones: You were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in the corridor!
    Michael Palin: Oh, we used to dream of living in a corridor! Would have been a palace to us! We used to live in an old
    watertank on a rubbish tip. We’d all woke up every morning by having a load of rotten fish dumped all over us! House, huh!
    Eric Idle: Well, when I say a house, it was just a hole in the ground, covered by a sheet of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us!
    Graham Chapman: We were evicted from our hole in the ground. We had to go and live in a lake!
    Terry Jones: You were lucky to have a lake! There were 150 of us living in a shoebox in the middle of the road!
    Michael Palin: A cardboard box?
    Terry Jones: Aye!
    Michael Palin: You were lucky! We lived for three months in a rolled-up newspaper in a septic tank! We used to have to go
    up every morning, at six o’clock and clean the newspaper, go to work down the mill, fourteen hours a day, week in, week out,
    for six pence a week, and when we got home, our dad would slash us to sleep with his belt!
    Graham Chapman: Luxury! We used to have to get up out of the lake at three o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a
    handful of hot grubble, work twenty hours a day at mill, for two pence a month, come home, and dad would beat us around
    the head and neck with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!
    Terry Jones: Well, of course, we had it tough! We used to have to get up out of the shoebox in the middle of the night, and
    lick the road clean with our tongues! We had to eat half a handful of freezing cold grubble, work twenty-four hours a day at
    mill for four pence every six years, and when we got home, our dad would slice us in two with a breadknife!
    Eric Idle: Right! I had to get up in the morning, at ten o’clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold
    poison, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill and pay millowner for permission to come to work, and when we got home,
    our dad would kill us and dance about on our graves, singing Hallelujah!
    Michael Palin: Aah. Are you trying to tell the young people of today that, and they won’t believe you!
    All: No, no they won’t!

  30. Epi, CN was assuming you were making a Fear-and-Loathing riff.

  31. Man, that’s a mashup that’d be fun to see Fear and Loathing in Bloom County. Shame neither author is worth a damn anymore…

  32. Sigh. I was referencing a series of Bloom County strips where someone had recently faked an autobiography (I think it was for Hitler), so some of the crazier Bloom County characters decided to do the same thing.

    I believe they did Elvis first but their deception was discovered because they wrote it on Dukes of Hazard stationery. Then they did Margaret Mead, and the last entry in the “journal/autobiography” was:

    “Man, those Samoans are a surly bunch.”

  33. Episiarch,

    I recall a scandal involving Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Bill the Cat. Ack.

  34. Yeah, sorry Epi. I, too, was assuming a Fear and Loathing, Samoan attorney riff.
    I remember that Bloom County panel now, but alas too late.

  35. “Shame neither author is worth a damn anymore…”
    Yeah. Since blowing his brains out, Hunter Thompson’s work has fallen off quite a bit.
    I’m not sure what Berk Breathed’s excuse is.

  36. There were many scandals involving Bill. One of the best was when he split with The Boingers and was then caught doing…bible study with a nun. Ruined his heavy metal career.

  37. (sorry for the grammatical problem in my last post)

  38. It was a golden age of newspaper comics when Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side were running simultaneously.

  39. I got The Complete Calvin and Hobbes for my 40th–what a great gift! It’s exactly the kind of thing it’s hard to justify spending the money on but that you want nonetheless.

  40. It was a golden age of newspaper comics when Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side were running simultaneously.

    Absolutely fucking true.

  41. Now if they’d just stop running those damnable Peanuts reruns. Opening my newspaper to see a cartoons where the punchline is “Willie Mays” makes my head hurt.

  42. Bill the Cat was the first vegisexual I’d ever heard of? “the years spent with a cabbage in a Ramada Inn.”

    I would have congratulated you on your Bloom County reference, Episiarch, but I was busy working and didn’t read it until just now. Perhaps someday I will be wealthy enough to be able to not work and devote all my time to monitoring H&R for obscure pop culture references. My apologies.

  43. NeonCat – I think it’s better to be paid while monitoring H&R for obscure pop culture references. But that’s just me.
    (I’ve got other things to do on my own time.)

  44. People claim to be from less fortunate backgrounds than they were because it makes their lives seem more interesting and their accomplishments more impressive. Growing up on welfare in an abusive household and still making it to college is a big deal, to use one example, while growing up middle class and going to college is humdrum. Overcoming a raging drug or alcohol habit that threatens to kill you is dramatic, toning down your drinking so you’re not useless in the office and a pain in the ass to your friends is not.

  45. Perhaps someday I will be wealthy enough to be able to not work and devote all my time to monitoring H&R for obscure pop culture references.

    Multitasking is a skill that must be honed, NeonCat. So is goofing off.

  46. I got The Complete Calvin and Hobbes for my 40th–what a great gift! It’s exactly the kind of thing it’s hard to justify spending the money on but that you want nonetheless.

    True dat. I got it for Christmas a couple years ago. Great stuff.

    Oh, and what Episiarch said at 1:47.

    Shorter Dragonfly at 2:21:

    Some people claim to be from less fortunate backgrounds than they were because it makes their lives seem more interesting and their accomplishments more impressive. Growing up on welfare in an abusive household and still making it to college is a big deal, to use one example, while growing up middle class and going to college is humdrum. Overcoming a raging drug or alcohol habit that threatens to kill you is dramatic, toning down your drinking so you’re not useless in the office and a pain in the ass to your friends is not are pathetic posers.

  47. The biggest prize winner in the faked literary category still belongs Carlos Castaneda. The dude was given a PhD in anthropology based on his “research” and the first three books he wrote.

    His works can still be found in the non-fiction sections of some libraries.

  48. Did anyone else immediately think of the old Steve Martin bit “I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin’ on the porch with my family, singin’ and dancin’ down in Mississippi…” ?

  49. Man that sounds like an exciting book. I’d read it, and probably me, too.

    “I hope not, for my reader’s sakes.”

    Mr Gillespie, is that typo at all Freudian?

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