Bogus Memoirs, Book Publishers, and Us

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It was an amazing story — Margaret B. Jones, half white, half Native American, growing up criminal and loved in South Central LA, dealing drugs at twelve, getting a gun for her birthday when she was fourteen, running with Bloods and Crips and the gang life.

Incredible. And a complete fraud.

The news this week: the Margaret B. Jones we welcomed on this show last week is really Margaret Seltzer, grown child of a cushy suburb. And her new memoir? She made it all up.

Holy smokes. It happened to Oprah with James Frey. Now it's happened to us.

This hour, On Point: bogus memoirs, and why they fly.Guests:

Charlotte Abbott, contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, and a former editor at Harper Collins.

James Atlas, president of the publishing firm Atlas & Co., founder of the Penguin Lives series, and author of the autobiographical novel "The Great Pretender," the memoir "My Life in the Middle Ages," and biographies of Saul Bellow and Delmore Schwartz.

Lev Grossman, book critic for Time magazine and author of the novels "Codex" and "Warp."

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly.

This program aired on March 5, 2008.


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