NEW YORK – 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 Dylans 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.