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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One More Case

Here is another case of plagiarism - fraud and misrepresentation. Apparently the publishers did check out the author - but perhaps not thoroughly enough. t

Tracking the Fallout of (Another) Literary Fraud
- Motoko Rich

One day after the author of “Love and Consequences” confessed that she had made up the memoir about her supposed life as a foster child in gang-infested South-Central Los Angeles, the focus turned to her publisher and the news organizations that helped publicize what appeared to be a searing autobiography.

Susan Seubert for The New York Times

Margaret Seltzer admits fabricating her gang-life memoir.

Geoffrey Kloske, publisher of Riverhead Books, the unit of Penguin Group USA that released the book, by Margaret Seltzer, under a pseudonym, Margaret B. Jones, said on Tuesday that there was nothing else that he or Sarah McGrath, the book’s editor, could have done to prevent the author from lying.

“In hindsight we can second-guess all day things we could have looked for or found,” Mr. Kloske said. “The fact is that the author went to extraordinary lengths: she provided people who acted as her foster siblings. There was a professor who vouched for her work, and a writer who had written about her that seemed to corroborate her story.” He added that Ms. Seltzer had signed a contract in which she had legally promised to tell the truth. “The one thing we wish,” Mr. Kloske said, “is that the author had told us the truth.”

Riverhead has recalled nearly 19,000 copies of the book and is offering refunds to book buyers.

Ms. Seltzer told her editor and her publisher that she wanted to use the pseudonym because it was the name she was known by in the gang world and because she was trying to reconnect with her birth mother and felt that using her real name would complicate this effort. But she lied to them and in the book about most of the basic elements of her identity, claiming that she was part American Indian and that she had moved from foster home to foster home as a child. In fact, as she admitted on Monday, she grew up with her biological family in the prosperous Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles, and graduated from a private Episcopal day school.


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