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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Urgent Message to Publishers: Stop Being So Naïve

Though I had no intention of writing two entries today, in my check-in over at the UCLA Writers' Programs Blog written by Corey Campbell, she referenced this story about yet another highly acclaimed memoir revealed to be fabricated, and I felt compelled to comment. Apparently, Margaret B. Jones, author of Love and Consequences was not even remotely the foster child/gang member/drug runner that she claimed to be in her memoir. In fact, she grew up rather close to my own hometown in the San Fernando Valley, in an upper middle class white family (with her birth parents) and attended private school. It wasn't until her sister spotted her in a NY Times House & Home article and outed her to her publisher that she admitted her fabrication.

I don't feel the need to explain why I find this never-ending stream of mendacious authors appalling. I think it goes without saying. I will say however that it's about time that editors wise-up and start doing some background checking. It's one thing to embellish actual events. It's another to make up an identity.

At the end of the International Herald Tribune article (linked above), the Love and Consequences' editor, Sarah McGrath, says of a recent conversation with Margaret B. Jones about the fabrication that "She seems to be very, very naïve..." Really? Since when are 33 year old women naïve?

Let me tell you Sarah McGrath, Margaret B. Jones couldn't possibly be as naïve as you. Wise up and start doing some basic background checks. Then you won't have to do this.

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