Saturday, April 5, 2008

Repost: GalleyCat - FishbowlLA Points to Peggy Seltzer's Radical Past

Just 'cause it won't die...

Keep diggin' Kate ;)

FishbowlLA Points to Peggy Seltzer's Radical Past

peggy-seltzer-nytimes.jpgBack when the whole "Margaret B. Jones" story began to unravel, Kevin Allman suggested that anyone wanting to understand Peggy Seltzer, the author of the fake memoir Love and Consequences, should check out her connections to "the Oregon eco-underground." Kate Coe of FishbowlLA has been keeping one eye on the story, and she spotted a Williamette Week article by John Minervini that did just that, and learned about her background as "a sort of failed environmental activist and part-time anarchist."

"Peggy Seltzer didn't need to invent an interesting life—she already had one," Minervini writes. "She was living in a communally owned house in Eugene, running around with outlaw environmental activists—possibly dating them—fraternizing with fringe types of all stripes. She has an 8-year-old daughter, Rya, whose paternity is unclear, and that story alone could probably furnish a decently thick, heartbreaking memoir. So why make up a kitschy, condescending story about the hard-knock life you never had, when your actual life is, frankly, worth reading about?"

You'd think, right? On the other hand, the kind of money she got from Riverhead for being a sexually abused Native American raised by a kindly black woman in South Central is probably much more than she would've gotten from anybody for being a disenchanted private school student who moves in with a bunch of radical greens and reinvents herself as a persecuted minority. Because there's only two ways to tell that story effectively (by which, of course, I mean, commercially viable): Jones would either have to be relentlessly honest with herself and with her readers, or tweaked her adulthood into a fantasy version of Pacific Northwest slackerdom. And if you're going to give yourself a fantasy life anyway, why not pull out all the stops?

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