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Literary fraud du jour or why couldn't she have just written a novel?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by JR, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. JR

    JR Active Member

    I read the review of this last week and thought it sounded pretty interesting--about a young woman who used to be a drug runner for L.A. gangs. Problem is, it was all made up.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/books/04fake.html?ref=arts

    Ms. Seltzer’s story started unraveling last Thursday after she was profiled in the House & Home section of The New York Times. The article appeared alongside a photograph of Ms. Seltzer and her 8-year-old daughter, Rya. Ms. Seltzer’s older sister, Cyndi Hoffman, saw the article and called Riverhead to tell editors that Ms. Seltzer’s story was untrue.

    I suspect her publisher will be suing for the advance.

    Unbelievable.
     
  2. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    This isn't about the Fab Five?
     
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    She's a nutburger.
     
  4. JR

    JR Active Member

    I kept thinking, "How did she expect to get away with this?"
     
  5. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    I'm sure that as a novel it was rejected by every publisher she sent it to, just like Frey.
     
  6. JR

    JR Active Member

    You may be right but one of the reviewers said that parts of it read like a novel.
     
  7. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    She got away with this because the publishers let her get away with it and tacitly encourage it - memoirs sell, first novels don't. And there are plenty big of big deal, high profile book editors who have made their reputations, and fortunes, on such so-called "memoirs." I know because I worked with one of the biggest on a non-fiction book project. Believe me, this person would have been absolutely thrilled if I would have made stuff up - and did everything but tell me directly to do so - but kept "plausible deniability." At one point, over my strong objection, a third party freelance editor, a so-called"book doctor" was brought in to "help." This is another person with a big rep in the publishing world who has turned numerous projects into best sellers, some of which I'm sure nearly every person here has read.

    I saw exactly how she did it. She reassigned words of one speaker to another, paid no attention to actual timelines, moved incidents back and forth and up and down, invented scenes and impressions that didn't exist, etc. In short, she fictioned up a piece of non-fiction, pure and simple.

    I was appalled, and after much struggle, wrested the book back and restored it. It didn't become best seller but it was the truth, and afterwards we all chose to wash our hand of each other.

    The "memoir" is just an invention of the publishing industry. Real memoirs, just like real autobiographies, actually written by the subject, don't sell. I mean, would you rather read the story of a half-white, half-native girl living with gangbangers, or some narcissistic privliged kid who likes to slum?
     
  8. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    It was never shopped as a novel. Read the story, it's illuminating. And angry-making for those of us who try to write non-fiction for a living.
     
  9. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    You are correct.

    And I think In Exile nailed it.
     
  10. JR

    JR Active Member

    In Exile
    I don't know what publisher or editor you're talking about (nor do I care to) but from my experience, publishers are notoriously scrupulous about this sort of thing. How this managed to get pas the editor is rather puzzling.

    No publishing company I ever worked for would knowingly commit this kind of fraud.

    Saying autobiographies don't sell is a gross generalization.

    As a matter of fact, next to cookbooks, they're probably the best-selling non-fiction genre.
     
  11. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    So you're saying a cookbook for drug runners is a slam dunk sale?

    I'll get cracking on it right now!
     
  12. There are many people in the book publishing industry who are below house mold.
     
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