Journalist Harry Allen has uncovered a fascinating piece of the Margaret Jones/Peggy Seltzer puzzle: a video that seems to be a promotional vehicle for her now-discredited memoir Love and Consequences:
These days, publishers often commission promo videos to be posted on MySpace or YouTube; I don't know if they really help sales, but they're cheap to produce and they can't hurt. As Harry explains:
It seems to have been shot as part of a companion “electronic press kit,” or EPK, for the disgraced author’s quickly-canceled book tour and publicity campaign. (In the wake of the outrageous controversy, Riverhead recalled all of the 19,000 copies of Love and Consequences it had previously shipped, from a 24,000 total copies printed, the sum of which were then certainly pulped.)
Harry's shrewd, funny analysis of the video is well worth reading (and you've got to see the picture of Sister Souljones' high school graduation pic to believe it), but I'm not sure the vid was shot in South Central L.A., as he hypothesizes. It's certainly not Eugene, Ore. -- the palm trees in the background are pure L.A. -- but the tract houses in the background are more Brady Bunch than Watts (check the spiffy landscaping and the lack of bars on the windows).
The biggest "tell" in the whole thing, though, is the fact that Jones/Seltzer just sits there for all 10 minutes of the video. I've seen a lot of these publishers' promos, and they usually involve an author walking around, telling stories from their memoirs on the sites where the stories occurred.
Jones/Seltzer couldn't walk around and bring her story to life -- because it was an easily disprovable pack of lies. No street corner locations where she dealt rock; no battered-but-humble family home where "Big Mama" dished out neckbones and homespun wisdom in equal measure. So she just sits there like she was being interviewed on the Today show, a white woman in front of some well-kept houses, talking in vague generalities about education and "potential" and inspiration.
It makes me wonder what it would take for Riverhead to have smelled a rat in this story -- or, indeed, in how much denial the publisher was willing to engage not to smell a rat.