Margaret “Peggy” Seltzer (1975- ), an American writer, is best known as Margaret B. Jones, author of “Love and Consequences” (2008). It tells of her growing up in the 1980s as a half-white, half-Native-American foster child in the middle of South Central, a black ghetto of Los Angeles.
She got a gun for her 13th birthday. She first sold crack to pay the water bill. She ran drugs. One foster brother was sent to prison, the other was gunned down in front of the house. She was part of a gang, the Bloods. She got a scholarship to the University of Oregon and graduated.
It was all made up.
Seltzer grew up with both birth parents, both white, in Sherman Oaks, a well-to-do white part of Los Angeles on the other side of town, in the Land of the Valley Girls. She went to the same private school as Hollywood’s Olsen twins. She did go to the University of Oregon but failed to graduate.
Seltzer did not just come up with a character for a book – she lived as that character!
She fooled the New York Times. She fooled Michel Martin at NPR. She fooled her agent. She fooled her publisher. She fooled her editor. She fooled her friends. She fooled a long-time pastor of South Central. She fooled a gang member of the Bloods.
Even in 2006, when James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” (2003) was discovered to be a lie, her editor never called L.A. child services, never called the University of Oregon, to check simple facts.
But there was one person she could not fool: her sister.
Days after the book went on sale, her sister outed her. Seltzer then said the book was based on stories of people she knew. Then she dropped out of sight.
Naomi Zack, a professor at the University of Oregon:
For so long there are people who haven’t had voices, who couldn’t get their work in print, who couldn’t talk about themselves, and for a white privileged woman to speak in the voice of this group is very insulting.
Seltzer claiming to be half Native American was no accident. America has a long history of fake Indian writers. She was one of them. Her stuff never saw print but Gordon Sayre of the University of Oregon, in his book “Indian Chief as Tragic Hero” (2005), says:
Peggy Seltzer of the Quinault nation alerted me to the annual ride of the Sioux and inspired my teaching of Native American literature at Oregon.
In the 1990s she claimed she was from the Quinault Indian reservation in Washington state. She wrote stories and poetry about it. She talked about Indians so much that customers at the Starbucks she worked at complained.
Back then she was a green anarchist working to save the old trees of Oregon from being cut down – and to free Jeff Luers.
She was also perfecting a South Central accent – and then dropped out of sight.