Clueless in New York

SeltzerHer years in Los Angeles taught Nancy Rommelmann, an ex-New Yorker, that no one is more provincial than New Yorkers. So she isn't surprised that Manhattan's publishing industry and the New York Times fell for Margaret Seltzer's whopper about being a foster child and gang homie in South Los Angeles. Check out Nancy's post on the Margaret B. Jones and "Love and Consequences" scandal at Native Intelligence. Sample:

I read the review of this book last week in the New York Times, and within an hour, emailed my editor at the LA Weekly...Had this girl fought her way up and out through her writing, someone with his or her eye on the book scene in Los Angeles would have heard about her, at a party, a conference, via a tip from a writer; the newspaper. But there’d been nothing, and my editor agreed, it sounded a lot like Navahoax.

The book, based on the review by Michiku Kakutani, strained all credibility; the characters, dialogue, heartbreaks and denouement were stereotypical to the point of cartoonish. It eluded me how Kakutani could characterize the work as, “humane and deeply effecting.” Reading a follow-up piece in the Times, by Mimi Read, who with a straight face quoted Jones as saying, “One of the first things I did once I started making drug money was to buy a burial plot,” I thought, how is it possible that a New York Times reporter believes this?

The problem, Nancy says, is that to a New York editor the stories didn't sound made up.

Los Angeles too: Susan Salter Reynolds blogs about her L.A. Times review of the book.

Photo: Sol Neelman via New York Times

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