Last month, it was revealed that the New York Times and Manhattan publishing world were deceived by Love and Consequences, a faked memoir by a white girl who claimed to live the life you only hear about in Dr. Dre songs. The damage control was so good, the book never saw daylight, and we never knew how big of an embarrassment this cartoonishly racist gangster fantasy should have been. But last week a copy arrived at my doorstep.
Supposedly written by gangsta moll Margaret B. Jones, Love and Consequences turned out to be the work of middle-class liar Margaret Seltzer. She had invented the tale behind a laptop at Starbucks, tricking not only her publisher, but also her fans at the Times, which graced the memoir with repeated coverage.
After it was revealed her work was a forgery, the damage control was swift and successful. On March 5, with the book just out the door, the New York Times revealed the hoax, if not just how bad it was. Her agent, Faye Bender, told the paper, reassuringly, that “there was no reason to doubt her, ever.” And that set the tone for the coverage. Love & Consequences, wrote the L.A. Times, must have seemed “edgy, sexy, cinematic.”
In 1930, shortly after the studio release of his movie The Silent Enemy, Buffalo Child Long Lance’s Indian identity began to crumble. He was a celebrity by that time, having boxed Dempsey and dated movie stars, but he was not, it turned out, a full-blooded Blackfeet Indian who had been raised on the plains, as he had claimed. He had not hunted buffalo from horseback as the prairie winds blew through his hair. And his name was not actually Buffalo Child Long Lance. His real name was Sylvester Long. He was from Winston-Salem, N.C. He was African-American. And his father was not a chief but, rather, a janitor.
Margaret B. Jones, the author of Love and Consequences, is hardly the first person to have invented an Indian self and a past. Her memoir tells of her upbringing as a half-white, half-Indian foster child by a black family in South Central L.A. In fact, Jones’ real name is Margaret Seltzer, she did not grow up in South Central, she’s never been a foster child, and she’s no more a Native American than Sylvester Long was.
From the NYTs:
In “Love and Consequences,” a critically acclaimed memoir published last week, Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods.
The problem is that none of it is true.