NEW YORK (AP) — A staff writer for The New Yorker has resigned and his best-selling book has been halted after he acknowledged inventing quotes by Bob Dylan.
Jonah Lehrer released a statement Monday through his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, saying that some Dylan quotes appearing in "Imagine: How Creativity Works" did "not exist." Others were "unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes."
Lehrer said he acknowledged his actions after being contacted by Michael Moynihan of the online publication Tablet Magazine, which earlier Monday released an in-depth story on the Dylan passages in "Imagine"
"I told Mr. Moynihan that they (the quotes in question) were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan's representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said," Lehrer wrote in his statement.
"The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers."
Houghton Mifflin said in a statement that Lehrer had committed a "serious misuse." Listings for the e-book edition of "Imagine" will be removed and shipments of the physical book have been stopped. "Imagine," published in March, has sold more than 200,000 copies, according to Houghton Mifflin. It has spent 16 weeks on The New York Times' hardcover nonfiction bestseller list and ranked No. 105 on Amazon.com as of midday Monday. Amazon had cited the book as among the best March releases.
A spokesman for Dylan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Over the past decade, numerous books have been pulled, whether because of lifting material from other sources (Q.R. Markham's "Assassin of Secrets") or fabricating events (James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces"). Canceled books inevitably lead to calls for publishers to fact check releases. But publishers say the time and expense of reviewing thousands of texts, on a vast range of subjects, makes the process impractical.