You may recognize the name Margaret B. Jones as the author of Love and Consequences, the hottest thing to bring the grit of the inner-city streets to the chantilly-curtained homes of Connecticut (read: the New York Times‘ House & Home section) since Barbershop 2: Back In Business. Margaret “Peggy” Seltzer, you’ll learn from reports today, is the actual name of fictional “memoirist” Margaret B. Jones, a woman not from the gangland streets of which she wrote but from a private school upbringing in the San Fernando valley. Riverhead Books, the title’s publisher, is drowning in yet another faked book controversy.
Jones’ Love and Consequences was the three-year-long project of editor Sarah McGrath, whose father, Charles McGrath, is currently writer at large for the New York Times (and who was previously the editor of the New York Times Book Review), and whose husband J. Edward Kastenmeier is a book editor himself. Assuming for a minute that the topic of the three-year project never came up around the office, that galleys were never shared or peeked at, and assuming as well that the book probably had a decent shot at scoring major coverage in the Paper of Record anyway (who doesn’t love a redemption story?), is this a sign that the lessons of James Frey and JT Leroy have been forgotten and publishers can once again hope to avoid a scandal by re-labeling a book they know to be faked from “Fiction” to “Memoir”?