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Watered-down Seltzer

Posted by Joshua Glenn  March 7, 2008 01:42 PM

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Last month, I pointed out that at least 15 members of my generation -- PCers, born between 1964-73 -- have already published their memoirs. Even though the oldest PCers turn only 44 this year!

The veracity of several of these memoirs, some of which were "fictionalized" (whatever that means), others of which weren't, has been challenged. I'm thinking of these titles, in particular: "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," "A Million Little Pieces," "Running With Scissors," "Oh, The Glory of It All," and "The Fabulist."

Is fabricating -- then publishing -- a version of your life a PCer thing? I've wondered about this. Or do writers who belong to other generations do it, too? There was no way of knowing. Until now! Earlier this week, we were treated to a test case, of sorts.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that "Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival," a newly published memoir by Margaret B. Jones, who'd written about her life as a half-white, half-Native American child growing up in a Los Angeles 'hood and running drugs for the Bloods, was yet another hoax. Jones is actually Margaret Seltzer, an upper-middle-class white woman from the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. "She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members," the Times reported drily.

She does, however, enjoy using urban black slang. Which should count for something.

PS: "On Point" did the only broadcast interview with Jones/Seltzer), last Friday (2/29). On Wednesday, "On Point" did a second show on the story -- guests include Charlotte Abbott, contributing editor for Publishers Weekly; James Atlas, memoirist; and Lev Grossman, book critic for Time magazine.

Jones/Seltzer, and daughter

How old is Jones? According to the Times, she's 33. So... if she recently turned 33, she was born in 1975. But if she's turning 34 this year, she was born in '74. Hmm. Either way, she's technically not a PCer. She's on the cusp, though.

More investigation is needed. Readers, please lend a hand. Look at my list of premature memoirists and let me know if I'm forgetting anyone born between 1964-73. Thanks! And have a good weekend.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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