Thursday, March 6, 2008

197. Something in the Air

I've been writing lately about how disturbing I find letters and interviews printed in our local newspapers with unfounded accusations and barely-disguised untruths stated in them. Obviously, there's something in the air. Or perhaps the art of lying is contagious.

In the publishing/book world, there's a James Frey redux. Only this time it's Margaret B. Jones, a/k/a Peggy Seltzer. Another memoir that received positive reivews is fiction.

There are some differences. One is that the lie was promptly exposed by the author's sister after publication of the book and the news publicity it engendered. So Oprah isn't embarrassed this time.

The publisher has also changed its response --recalling all copies of the book and cancelling Ms. Seltzer's book tour. No chance for extra sales of copies after the scandal, as happened with James' Frey's book A Million Little Pieces.

There's an interesting discussion at Galley Cat about why this problem continues to resurface. While you can vote in a small poll, there's no option that includes "people like to lie; it makes them feel important." Meanwhile, Media Bistro is selling a video lesson on fact-checking.

And if you get tired of the fact-checking problem, you can always read about plagiarism, and its latest incarnation at the NYT, here at SLATE .

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