“Love” not “Truth”

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

It’s common to parse a first novel to see if it’s based on the author’s life. Now it seems we have to do the same with memoirs. Today’s New York Times reports that Margaret Jones has admitted that her memoir of life as a gang member, Love and Consequences, is fabricated.

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  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Riverhead/Penguin (February 28, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1594489777
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489778
  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged; Unabridged edition (February 28, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1423360575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423360575

The book received a starred review in LJ (no fault there; it’s not up to the reviewer to determine if a memoir is what it purports to be). The review said “This conversationally written, exquisitely detailed book is as close to a living experience of the American ghetto as one can get.” Most libraries have both the book and the audiobook, from Brilliance, on order. Riverhead/Penguin is recalling the book and canceling the author’s book tour.

The NY Times gave the book a strong review and profiled the author last Thursday. The Times reports that the author’s sister saw the article and called publisher with the news that Jones (real name: Seltzer) did not grow up in a gang, but with her family in a middle-class section of LA.

Libraries that have received the book may be wondering if they have to return it. This isn’t quite like a meat recall. While the publisher might prefer that the book is not in circulation, libraries who hang on to it are not risking law suits.