Lies and Consequences

Everybody wants to be a gangsta.

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Seltzer, who has admitted that she mashed up her story from the true accounts of friends, is no Zora Neale Hurston when it comes to the use of colloquialism. "Big Mom?" laughed one book publicist, "It's Big Mama."

I call my mother's mother "Grandma."

After Seltzer's real sister, Cyndi Hoffman, blew the whistle on her -- they grew up in middle-class Sherman Oaks and "Peggy" graduated from private school –- the disgraced author offered a half-eaten mea culpa, telling The Times: "I was really torn and I thought it was my opportunity to put a voice to people who people don't listen to."

Lame - and a lie. There are any number of real gangsters who don't need any ghostwriters to tell their story. For example, Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, who played the ruthless killer "Snoop" on HBO's The Wire, penned a 'hood to redemption tale, Grace After Midnight in 2007.

That true story tells the tale of Pearson's real life experiences growing up in East Baltimore, being convicted of second degree murder, spending nearly 6 years in state prison and then landing a role on one of the of the most critically acclaimed (there's those two words again) television shows in history.

In a recent phone interview, Pearson summed up Seltzer's situation in one word, "crazy."

"It don't make me angry -- it's sad," said Pearson, who wondered aloud whether Seltzer gave any of her book advance money to these voiceless masses she claimed to be helping.

Love and Consequences, like Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is high-minded, abolitionist literature that seeks to rescue those trapped south of the Santa Monica freeway by telling their story to the world. And like Stowe's novel, Seltzer's "memoir" is more depressing than uplifting.

The basic question here is whether anyone has a copyright on the "true ghetto story?"

"It's my story," said Pearson with particular emphasis on the "my." And Snoop would know: "I get to tell my story," she said.

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