Monday, March 29, 2010
Today's fake: Italian journo fabricated interviews with famous writers
Via Galleycat: An Italian journalist called Tommaso Debenedetti may have fabricated interviews with Philip Roth and John Grisham. The fake interviews were published in Italian newspapers.
technorati: fakes, fraud, writers
Labels: Beat writers, fakes, journalism
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Today's fake: Author who admitted to plagiarism last month is caught again
From the increasingly invaluable MobyLives blog, which is the house blog of the Melville House publishing concern: author Gerald Posner, who wrote for Slate.com until he was caught plagiarizing, is once again the subject of plagiarism charges. Apparently he scanned in lots of sources for a book on Miami vice -- organized crime, that is, not the TV show -- and neglected to clearly mark in his files the material that was from other authors.
That's his explanation, in any case... He also says the stuff he was found to have lifted constitutes "a unique case," and will revise the book, and wasn't that just what Charles Pellegrino said a few weeks ago when questions first arose about "Last Train from Hiroshima"?
technorati: fakes, writers, plagiarism
Labels: Bad Behavior, books, fakes, publishing, writers
Monday, March 01, 2010
Today's fake: author made up quotes, degree, many other false claims
A recently released book, Last Train from Hiroshima, is so filled with inaccuracies and apparently made-up quotations, sources and facts that publisher Henry Holt is recalling the book, thousands of which are already in book stores.
There are many versions of this story around the web today, but the most complete and damning is the one on MobyLives, the website of publisher Melville House. In addition to the accusations against the Hiroshima book -- including a complete fabrication about how the pilot of the Enola Gay regretted his actions, which he never did -- the entry includes doubts about the author that arose in previous projects. The author, Charles Pellegrino, falsely (and transparently so) claimed to have invented the submersible robot that discovered the Titanic (he didn't), to have thought up the idea behind Jurrasic Park (not) and to have discovered the tomb of Jesus (no experts believe those claims, which are "nonsense" according to the Israeli Antiquities Authority). Finally, he gave himself a PhD from a New Zealand university which says it never granted him a degree.
A week ago Pellegrino had admitted to some of the errors in the Hiroshima book, but said he had been duped. The publisher at that time planned to correct later editions.
The MobyLives entry quotes a 2000 NYT review of the Titanic book which demands, "He shouldn't get away with it." Apparently he rather has, getting book contract after contract, until now.
technorati: books, hoaxes
Labels: books, fakes, hoaxes
Friday, January 22, 2010
Narcissism and literature
The new New Yorker has a review of a book titled "Memoir, a History," in which author Ben Yagoda looks at the history of memoirs starting with St. Augustine and coming down to our present era, in which a a desperate search by readers and the entertainment industry for authenticity and stories of redemption and triumph led to a spate of faked memoirs. (A couple years ago the NYT took notice of this phenomenon.) The writer of the review, Daniel Mendelsohn, names most of the recent flaming scandals except for the J.T. LeRoy hoax, but the LeRoy books weren't actually supposed to be memoirs. That particular flim-flam was more elaborate than a single (or series of) fabricated memoir.
For several years I've taken great pleasure in blogging about these cases, collected on my blog with the labels hoaxes and fakes (applied somewhat inconsistently, but do I look like a librarian?).
technorati: hoaxes, literary hoaxes, memoirs
Labels: closet cases, fakes, hoaxes, writers
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Today's fake: girl lied about not asking for 56 stars on her face
A Belgian teenager got 56 stars tattooed on her face, then claimed she had asked for only three but had fallen asleep and was the victim of an overenthusiastic tattoo artist. Today she admitted lying. (Courtesy BoingBoing.)
I hope she keeps them, they look awesome -- as she says she thought when she first saw the art. Moral of the story? The tattoo artist "now intends to get written consent from clients before he begins tattooing."
The only thing that would have made this story better is if she were Austrian.
Labels: art, Bad Behavior, fakes, parenting, tattoos
Monday, June 15, 2009
Today's fake: a troubled pregnancy
A Chicago area blogger who kept readers spellbound with reports on her "pregnancy with a terminally ill baby" was faking the whole thing, local media reported yesterday. Faced with the problem of finally coming up with a baby, the 26-year-old woman, Beccah Beushausen of Oak Park, furnished a picture of herself cradling a swaddled doll. Readers quickly noticed the deception:
"I have that exact doll in my house," said Elizabeth Russell, a dollmaker from Buffalo who had been following the blog. "As soon as I saw that picture, I knew it was a scam."Notice who got upset. The only problem with this was that it was not intentionally designed to punk the anti-abortionists, but was merely a symptom of a sick mind.
By Monday, outraged followers on dozens of Christian parenting Web sites unmasked "April's Mom" as a hoaxer, and hundreds more vented their anger.
"I've always liked writing. It was addictive to find out I had a voice that people wanted to hear," Beushausen said.There goes the book deal!
"Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand," she said. "I didn't know how to stop. ... One lie led to another."
technorati: Beushausen, April's mom, abortion
Labels: abortion, bloggers, fakes, Focus on the Fundies, hoaxes, over-reactions
Friday, May 29, 2009
Today's fake: Ersatz reporter/Catholic "priestess" carried from press area
A woman who said she was a reporter for an obscure Georgia monthly newspaper, and who was wearing a cassock and also identified herself as a Roman Catholic "preistess," was carried out bodily by Secret Service agents from a press corral yesterday as President Obama was about to arrive at LAX to depart for Washington on Air Force One. The woman wanted to give Obama a letter asking him to "take a stand for traditional marriage," she said. The Secret Service asked her to leave when she refused to give the letter to an Obama staffer, and when she refused to leave, they carried her out. (Courtesy MediaBistro's Daily Media News email.
Labels: fakes, journalism, Obama
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Today's fake: Crazy people make up the best stories
There's this insane person-slash-scam artist on the East Coast who portrayed himself as a Rockefeller family member. He has been exposed, captured like a moth, and is now on trial for various weirdnesses. This paragraph from a Boston Globe story today contains awesomeness:
Clark Rockefeller's meticulous scheme to kidnap his 7-year-old daughter required months of painstaking planning. He bought a home in Baltimore under the fake identity of a Peruvian ship captain, hid his $800,000 divorce settlement in gold coins, lined up three getaway vehicles, and told tall tales to get unwitting accomplices involved in the effort, one of whom thought he was driving Rockefeller that Sunday to Newport, R.I., to go sailing with the son of Senator Chafee. I love that on the one hand he is capable of forming a "meticulous scheme" and of carrying on his deceptions for years, while at the same time being absolutely fucking nuts. But even better is the creativity and insane imagination. Eight hundred thousand dollars in gold coins! That's like the fantasy of every right-wing paranoid these days, because they all think there is going to by hyperinflation in a few years and the value of their gold -- they all have some -- will go up geometrically.
Best of all -- it had to be a Peruvian ship captain. God, I wish I had an imagination like that.
technorati: THIS, THAT, TOTHER
Labels: Bad Behavior, celebutantes, dystopia, economy, fakes, geeks, hoaxes, identity, writers ideas
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Today's fake: man fakes his death, but really badly
If you're going to fake your own death on Monday, don't rent a storage locker in your own name, leave your getaway vehicle there, and let the manager know "I'll be back for it Monday night." So that when you bail out of your private plane and it crashes, obviously with no one in it, and the motorcycle disappears on schedule, people won't totally know what happened.
Actually even before people knew about the getaway motorcycle:
"When I heard there was a plane crash, my first reaction was, this had to be staged," Tom Britt, a friend in Indiana, told CNN affiliate WRTV in Indianapolis. "[My] initial reaction was, 'I bet he wasn't in it.' That turned out to be correct. My second reaction was, he's trying to escape the pressure that was compounding on him."Could the guy have been any more transparent? Ow, compounding pressure!
Prosecutors in the guy's home state of Indiana promptly issued a felony arrest warrant for the bungler.
Labels: Bad Behavior, fakes, hoaxes
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
It's Bad Behavior Tuesday™! -- holiday feeling edition
A guy who was on the plane that crashed in Denver on Saturday sent Twitter messages about the experience, beginning with "Holy fucking shit I wasbjust in a plane crash!" (sic) After being taken back to the airport terminal, he wrote that passengers were being held in the airline's lounge but weren't given drinks. "You have your wits scared out of you, drag your butt out of a flaming ball of wreckage and you can't even get a vodka-tonic," he complained: "boo." His username? 2drinksbehind.
The CEO of Fry's, a West Coast electronics retailer, is being accused of scamming $65 million from the company in kickbacks from suppliers.
Today's fake: The New York Times apologized yesterday after publishing a fake letter to the editor purporting to be from the mayor of Paris.
Today's hoax: Publisher Jane Daniel is now speaking openly about having published a years-long hoax in which author Mischa Defonseca claimed to have survived the Holocaust as a child by living with wolves in a forest. Daniel is speaking openly, that is, because she has just published her own book about her role in the hoax. See my previous entry on the hoax.
In Colorado Springs, this headline says it all: Man Found Outside With Pants Down May Lose Legs.
Labels: Bad Behavior, books, Colorado Springs, fakes, hoaxes
Friday, December 05, 2008
Today in politics: fearing hoax, Florida congresswoman twice hangs up on Obama
The hoaxing of Sarah Palin no doubt still fresh in her mind, a Florida congresswoman twice hung up on President-Elect Barack Obama when he called to ask her help on coming legislation.
technorati: hoaxes, fakes
Labels: fakes, hoaxes, Obama, radio
Friday, September 26, 2008
It's Bad Behavior Friday™! -- Dog Day Afternoon edition
In Fountain, Colo., an 18-year-old man tried to hire two men to kill his mother so he could cash in her bank accounts in order to finance his girlfriend's breast augmentation. The plot went forward but the incompetents hired by the youth failed even to seriously injure the woman, who alerted neighbors by setting off the car alarm using her car key thingy. This was sufficient to stun the sole attacker -- the other idiot was standing outside -- long enough for the woman to flee next door.
Today's fake: A man who stole a Dodgers baseball uniform to impersonate a player was arrested Wednesday when he walked onto the field at Dodger Stadium. A security guard "recognized him from an earlier incident," which suggests a pathetic untold story. The man is 47.
Speaking of pathetic, this headline says it all: Bass fishing catching on as high school sport. I'll bet that really attracts the chicks.
Two San Francisco vagrants are regular attendees at the many conventions and conferences in the city, scamming conference swag, free meals, and, of course, "donations." They say they've been a team for 17 years, entertaining out-of-towners with comic pleas for alms.
A police detective in the New York suburb of New Rochelle, whose wife is a famous local TV anchor, admitted he used his badge to force a teenaged girl to have sex with him -- and that it wasn't the first time. Amazingly, the thug was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and got no jail time.
The Seattle Times has a feature on Ben Huh, the master of I Can Has Cheezburger, but he didn't invent the site. He merely bought it from a Hawaii couple, Eric Nakagawa and Kari Unebasami, "who started it as a hobby and were overwhelmed by the response." I hope they got a ton of money. The Korean-born Huh also owns Fail Blog, the article says.
Nebraska has a law that permits parents to permanently abandon a child at a hospital with no legal consequences. This week a widowed, out-of-work man dropped off his entire family, nine children between the ages of 1 and 17.
Staton said his wife died last year, shortly after delivering their youngest child. He said he quit his job because of his family responsibilities but couldn't pay rent or utilities or take care of his children. "I was with her for 17 years, and then she was gone," he said of his late wife. "What was I going to do? We raised them together. I didn't think I could do it alone. I fell apart. I couldn't take care of them." This paragraph is also significent:
A 2007 interview with Staton's oldest daughter in Omaha North High School's student newspaper said she shouldered some of the parenting duties. Despite helping to feed her siblings, check their homework and put them to bed, the teen graduated a year early. And got the hell out, I hope, though it doesn't say that.
Labels: Bad Behavior, Colorado Springs, crime, Dodgers, fakes, police
Monday, September 08, 2008
Today's fake: 'professional seducers'
Courtesy Melissa Gira: a story from the Times of London about an agency that employees young Japanese women to seduce husbands whose wives want a divorce. The story goes into quite some detail about how it all works, complete with case studies. What's strange to me is that the women -- the wives, that is -- are so desperate that they are basically paying a prostitute not just to to fuck their husbands but to make the men fall in love with them so as to convince them they'd be better off without their wives. Once the men agree to let their wives go, the young ladies disappear, naturally.
Takashi works for a company called ACYours. It was founded in 1997 by Mr Mishima, a rather sinister-looking character with a sparse beard, earrings and a tattooed arm. He explains solemnly that the business is all about helping people. If this all sounds like a film noir setup, remember the opening scenes of "Chinatown," for example: Jack Nicholson's character specializes in capturing spouses on film in flagrante delicto. Such practices used not to be unheard of in the U.S., before the era of no-fault divorce and other advances in women's rights.
Labels: fakes, Japan, prostitution
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Today's fake: Artist hoaxes Florida city mag
Courtesy MediaBistro: an artist pulled a major hoax on Orlando magazine, resulting in a feature story filled with bullshit. Among other claims, artist Mark Pulliam claimed to have played for the New York Yankees and to have done a commissioned painting of Yankee Stadium for team owner George Steinbrenner's office. Evidently the magazine, which published this fantastic tale in its August issue, never did any fact-checking for the piece.
Not known yet is whether Pulliam pulled the hoax intentionally or whether he just fed a gullible interviewer a load of crap, never dreaming his wild claims wouldn't be checked. But at least the guy really is an artist: view his work here. The interviewer, Jay Boyar, is primarily a movie writer who "teaches film analysis at the University of Central Florida."
The article doesn't seem to have been cached by Google, unfortunately, but at least you can read the magazine editor's column that issue, in which he says:
Associate editor Jay Boyar's profile of Winter Garden artist Mark Pulliam ("The Natural," page 74) is a great read. Although Madonna is a fan of Pulliam's paintings, he is a virtual unknown in this area. And would you believe he also once pitched for the New York Yankees? Hey, I couldn’t make that up if I tried. But someone did.
technorati: hoaxes, fake, Orlando
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Focus on the Fundies: Haggard back home, just in time for Gay Pride
Ted Haggard has left the "rehabilitation program" that was supposed to turn him into a heterosexual and has returned to Colorado Springs with a shameless appeal to former supporters:
It looks as though it will take two years for us to have adequate earning power again, so we are looking for people who will help us monthly for two years.... Between now and the end of the year, we have to find the people who want to help us transition into our future. So I am starting today to let friends like you know that we are raising money ...The story goes on to say that Haggard is living in the same Colorado Springs mansion he lived in when running a magachurch there. And there are still five big cars in the driveway.
In an email to a "friend," Haggard admitted using drugs with male prostitute Mike Jones, whose revelations to Colorado TV stations outed him just before the 2006 election
technorati: Ted Haggard
Labels: Colorado Springs, fakes, Focus on the Fundies, religious right, Republicans, Ted Haggard
Friday, June 06, 2008
It's Bad Behavior Friday™! -- Munchausen Syndrome By Internet edition
You may have heard of the mental disorders Munchausen Syndrome, and the even more nauseating Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. In the former, a personality disordered person deliberately injures themselves to gain attention and sympathy; in the latter, they injure a loved one, usually their child, so that they can appear to everyone as a loving and selfless caretaker of their poor hurt little darling. The phenomenon experienced by the writer Armistead Maupin, in which an insane woman built up a phone relationship with him based on a supposedly seriously ill but actually non-existent child, was written up by him in the novel "The Night Listener." The J.T. LeRoy hoax, which was carried out primarily on the telephone by a manipulative former phone sex worker, also had a whiff of this.
With the internet, we have a new version of this illness. There are two websites called Dogster and Catster -- run by the same company -- which are social networking sites for pet owners. The conceit of these sites is that the pet owners don't post as themselves, but in the personas of their pets. My wife Cris has been a member of Catster for several months in the persona of our cat Milagrito. She is essentially writing tongue-in-cheek blog entries about current events; right now Milagrito is running for president.
Of course, pets do get sick and die. When this happens, the other users in their network -- their cat's "friends" -- naturally post sympathetic messages and condolences. One of the users, I mean cats, makes little "angel wings" graphics to bestow on the departed kitty.
By now you may be able to see where this is going. According to a post from the wing-bestowing user, someone is going to elaborate lengths to create fake users, complete with pictures taken from cat adoption websites; after their cat has acquired several "friends," it begins to suffer a series of illnesses and accidents and eventually "dies," all accompanied by an outpouring of sympathy from their "friends." The wing-building user realized this was going on when she sensed something strange about a request for wings for a newly dead cat. I'll let this user, Krishna, take it from here:
A couple months ago I was contacted by a member of our community with a request for wings. The person asking for wings had recently lost their cat to a degenerative health problem that they did not name on their profile.So, that's pretty pathetic, faking the death of a pet to get people's attention and sympathy. I suppose it's better than actually hurting yourself or, worse, a child or pet, but really, how gross.
Something about the request set the hairs on the back of my neck up. As I read the pmail and looked at the picture I had a sense of deja vu. I had seen the writing style before and had seen the same picture on the profile somewhere else on the internet.
After spending about an hour or so searching google images using countless search strings I came across the picture of the departed kitty same cat same picture of a garden in the background same everything. The cat was alive and up for adoption on petfinder. The petfinder entry was a new one too. I was infuriated! I started searching for pictures of the persons other cats and dogs and found them on google. Some were stolen from kittenwar some from petfinder and some from independent breeder sites.
I was so angry I confronted the person. They first tried telling me that they travelled extensively and picked up animals from all over the world. I asked them for the pets pre-adopted names, they couldn't. They told me to go to hell and stop being so nosy. That I was cruel for doubting them and their pain. Then they dissappeared off of dogster and catster completely. I breathed a sigh of relief.
But a day later I was asked to make wings for a new member. After reading the profile outlining their rapidly declining health and final death; my suspicions arose again. I went to google and again found the profile pictures mocking me. Mocking the pain I felt at the death of my beloved pets. I couldn't understand it at all. Why would someone fake a death? Is it the attention, is it the rosettes [virtual presents given from one user to another -- ed.], is it the wings, or something else?
Honestly I couldn't figure it out. Anyway as the weeks passed I started noticing more and more profiles using the same writing style, same flash toys on the pages, same backgrounds from the same site, and the same types of dramatic deaths. It was amazing to see the unbelievable events that lead to the deaths of these pet profiles.
It has prevented me from enjoying this site. Following the new profiles that come on, the insurgence of users that only join for the free giveaways, it's overwhelming. Understanding the freebees was easy. The fakes sickness and deaths is dumbfounding.
technorati: Munchausen Syndrome, pets, catster, internet
Labels: cats, fakes, hoaxes, the internets
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Hoaxers as superheroes
To bring this week's literary scandal to a close -- a quite minor scandal it was, but one that bloggers have chewed thoroughly as if it were the last piece of steak before a year-long Buddhist retreat -- NYT books reporter Motoko Rich drew up a collection of literary hoaxers from Clifford Irving to JT LeRoy to the current, soon-to-be-forgotten Peggy Seltzer.
While looking over the illustration (left) for Rich's article, I suddenly realized that her rogue's gallery suggested a sort of sick Legion of Literary Super-villains who went over to the dark side; I envision them sitting around in their decrepit Brooklyn headquarters, all trying to write "true memoir" versions of their experiences while drinking out of the same bottle of cheap Cabernet Sauvignon from Trader Joes and all sharing the same cellphone while they try to get an agent or editor to return their calls. When the cellphone rings they all dive for it and end up in a heap on the floor, the wine puddling into a stain that can never be washed away.
The Super-Hoaxers, their true identities, and some details about them: (Note: all have the super-power of assuming others' identities; each has at least one additional power)
- Wannabe Girl (Peggy Seltzer) -- Her uniform is a red hoodie and red kerchief with baggy jeans and $150 Timberland boots. She speaks in a patois of fake South Central ghetto-speak until the other Super-Hoaxers cover their ears and tell her to shut up, whereupon she starts asking them to help her write a prep school memoir. Her super-power is making bourgeois editors believe that the cultural signifiers of powerless people are actually powerful totems that magically grant a sense of authenticity and genuine feeling.
- Big Lummox (James Frey) -- Speaks in a strangely high-pitched voice, tending toward whining when talking about himself. His uniform is a Gap denim shirt and Relaxed-size jeans with $300 Nikes. His super-power is getting women to feel sorry for him.
- Red-Faced Man (Tim Barrus) -- Growling, mumbling, often drunk, his speech is often unintelligible, but Wannabe Girl pretends to understand it. His uniform is red plaid shirts, cast-off red kerchiefs from Wannabe Girl (though they are often thought to be romantically involved, they actually can't stand one another), dirty brown trousers, and moccasins. His super-power is that, while everything else in his books is a lie, he actually knows how to fish, though in Brooklyn this skill is useless.
- Cherry Pie (Laura Albert) -- Though middle-aged, her uniform is a 12-year-old Victorian child's dress, worn with a floppy hat from the 1960s. Her super power is being able to sound like any other human being, but only on the phone; if you watch her performing this feat of vocal impersonation in person, it just looks weird. She also has a sort of super-hypnotic power that can make others believe that some random people she's with are actually family members or somehow also famous, but it only works on has-been celebrities, and it's weakening as time goes on.
- Super-Daughter (Kaavya Viswanathan) -- Her uniform is smart college togs from H&M, and she speaks like an east coast prep school student, but can turn on a curry accent when provoked. Wannabe Girl is dying to be her best friend. Her long hair is capable of reaching out and entangling reporters, college admissions officers, editors and potential mates, and she also knows everything, but no one believes her.
technorati: hoaxes, JT LeRoy, Peggy Seltzer
Labels: fakes, hoaxes, superheroes
Monday, March 03, 2008
Today's fake: she wasn't half-native American or a gang chick
A woman who wrote a memoir about being a half white, half Native American gang chick who worked as a drug courier for South Central L.A. gangs made it all up, and the publisher is pulling all unsold copies and cancelling her book tour. Her rationale?
I was in a position where at one point people said you should speak for us because nobody else is going to let us in to talk. Maybe it's an ego thing -- I don't know. I just felt that there was good that I could do and there was no other way that someone would listen to it. She was found out when the New York Times published a profile of the author last week; her sister read it, agog, then called the publisher to squeal.
I wonder how many of these the publishing industry will take before the entire memoir genre becomes a thing of the past.
Labels: fakes, hoaxes, publishing
Monday, December 24, 2007
It's Bad Behavior Monday™! -- Xmas edition
To protest commercialism, a Washington man nailed Santa Claus to a 15-foot cross in front of his house, and put images of it on his Xmas cards with the message "Santa died for your MasterCard."
A woman in Wyoming stabbed her husband in the chest for opening a present early. The lovebirds, who have been married three months, are both 34. And in New Zealand, a "gang of fifty drunken Santas" went on a mild rampage at a cineplex, knocking over cardboard cutout figures and a Christmas tree.
"Shopdropping" -- the opposite of shoplifting -- means placing things in stores for people to purchase. The items might be anti-consumer objects d'art, or simply some independent producer's music CDs he's trying to unload. One Oakland artist makes "anarchist action figures ... with tiny accessories including a gas mask, bolt cutter, and two Molotov cocktails;" when he took a t-shirt depicting 20th century revolutionary figures to the cash register at a Target, the manager looked askance:
"I don't think this is a product that we sell," the manager said as Mr. Jennings pretended to be a customer trying to buy it. "It's definitely antifamily, which is not what Target is about." Other shopdroppers are simply people who don't want gifts and just dump them on store shelves rather than go through the hassle of standing in line to return them.
A southern California man claiming to be in the CIA talked two men out of $20,000 in various cons, including a theatrical phone call when he pretended to be under fire and demanded $10,000 to get a helicopter and a pilot.
In October 2005, he began telling employees and others who frequent the gun shop -- some of them Oxnard police officers -- that he'd been hired by the CIA. He disappeared for about three weeks. When he came back he talked about having been at "The Farm," the CIA's training facility. He wore what looked like a federal agent's badge on his belt. He had CIA credentials as well, he said, but those were strictly confidential. Risser told one regular customer at the shooting range that he'd like to be more specific about what he did for the CIA, but "If I told you, I'd have to kill you." Yes, he met his marks at a shooting range.
Labels: Bad Behavior, fakes
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Today's fake: Woman who told of 9/11 survival
A woman who has gotten attention for several years telling a story of surviving the collapse of the World Trade Center while losing her fiancé turns out to be dubious. Strange mix of fantasies:
Her own life was saved, she said, by a selfless volunteer who stanched the flames on her burning clothes before she was helped down the stairs. It was a journey she said she had the strength to make because she kept thinking of a beautiful white dress she was to wear at her coming marriage ceremony to a man named Dave.
She has told people that she is the daughter of a diplomat, and is described on the Survivors' Network Web site as "a senior vice president for strategic alliances for an investment think tank."
Monday, September 17, 2007
With Frey's new book deal, people are pissed afresh
James Frey, who made quarter-million readers throw up when he admitted that the harrowing details of his drug-addled youth, as chronicled in "A Million Little Pieces," were mostly made up, signed a book deal last week for a novel. Since that's what his first book should have been characterized as, you might think he'd get a little credit, but it just made people pissed off all over again. Alexander Chee and friends comment.
Coincidentally, San Francisco writer Stephen Elliott published an essay in the Chronicle's books section yesterday called Focus On the Book, Not On the Writer. He says it doesn't matter there was no real J.T. LeRoy.
I can't agree. I regularly excoriated and mocked the LeRoy hoaxers, as well as other fakes, last year. Charlie Anders, on the other hand, agrees with Elliott.
technorati: writers, hoaxes,JT LeRoy,James Frey
Labels: fakes, writers
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Lit liars in the news
Coincidentally, two of last year's most disgraced authors were in the news today. The filthy rich parents of Kaavya Viswanathan, whose name was attached to a largely plagiarized novel "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed" etc., bought a $3.2 million condo in Manhattan. And Galleycat reports that James Frey has recovered enough from his national humiliation on Oprah to pen a novel. Man, that's one book that's going to be combed for lice like a first grader's head.
technorati: James Frey, Kaavya, hoaxes, writers
Labels: book deals, fakes, hoaxes, publishing, writers
Monday, December 18, 2006
People continue to take "JT LeRoy" writer seriously
On the Zen Monkeys site is a big interview with Laura Albert, the woman who wrote the JT LeRoy books, conducted by the pre-Web 1.0 personage RU Sirius.
I have never cottoned to the work of either person, in any of their roles. I always hated Mondo 2000, the magazine edited by RU Sirius -- it was the epitome of flashy cool crap, with startling, fluorescent eye-catching graphics accompanying articles about bullshit. It was like porn for Burning Man types before there was Burning Man and before porn was cool, though it wasn't porn except in the sense of being masturbation material about "alternative" future crap, like "smart drugs" and hypertext fiction -- stuff that might have been interesting if it had existed, but which they treated totally seriously as if it did. (At one point, about 1992, another magazine came along that tried to look similar and was porn -- "Future Sex," which was almost as bad, though it was at least about something.)
I guess that makes RU Sirius the perfect person to interview Laura Albert, who wrote books that were considered to be good mainly because they were supposed to be not just novels but the merely lightly fictionalized story of a tragically victimized person whom, as it turned out, did not exist, thus rendering the books uninteresting. On the subject of Albert having been interviewed by the Paris Review (which was careful to characterize it not as an interview but an "encounter"), RU Sirius says, apparently with an absolute straight face: "It's a sign of respect for your work."
No, it's a sign that the Paris Review has changed its focus and now interviews freaks, like the Serbian assassin they talked with the issue before that. That was also an "encounter." (From a piece on the Paris Review's new editor Philip Gourevitch:
Best of all, he added a feature he calls Encounter, a short Q & A with interesting, obscure people.I'm still waiting for an agent to sell a book with Laura Albert's name on it. According to Publisher's Marketplace, that is yet to happen.
One Encounter was an interview with a professional mourner in China. "We used to treat every funeral like a contest," he said. "There were lead wailers and backup wailers, and after the gig was over, members would get together and critique each other's performances." Another Encounter was with a Chinese public toilet manager. ... Those Encounters were amusing, but the Encounter with Nikola Kavaja was chilling. Kavaja is a Serb assassin who served 18 years in U.S. prisons for hijacking an American Airlines jet in Chicago in 1979...)
Update: Apparently Albert is really making the rounds. Here's a USA Today -- or rather, a USA Today blog -- interview in which she starts crying when asked "is JT's voice completely gone from your head now, or does it still come back?" Utterly shameless.
The Fake Patrol
Suckers line up to claim they were duped by LeRoy hoax
'Other writers latched onto JT as career move'
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Friday, September 29, 2006
'JT LeRoy' fraudster still milking it
Laura Albert had a tea party (when? The article doesn't say; so much for the five Ws) to "celebrate" the release of the Paris Review with her "interview."
Not one of the high-profile official Paris Review interviews; in this issue they give that treatment to Stephen King. No, the Albert interview is called an "encounter." Lots of bio info, judging by the online excerpt.
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Monday, May 08, 2006
MethaPhor five six
The Boston Globe has a piece about the book packager involved in the MethaPhor scandal (link courtesy Galleycat).
I was thinking last night that there has to be a good joke that begins with the line: "J.T. LeRoy, James Frey and Kaavya Viswanathan go into a bar..."
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
MehtaPhor, act III
Thought that Indian-American girl's troubles were over? Thought the story would die down now that the publisher has pulled her book from shelves? Not even close. Readers have found plagarized passages from additional books by everyone from Salman Rushdie to Sophie Kinsella.
Perhaps we'll soon see a story like this:
Teen author also stole from Jefferson, Twain, Whitman, others
A close examination of Kaavya Viswanathan's now-infamous debut novel "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" has uncovered passages from several famous American authors, according to media reports.
The Harvard Independent reported that a passage on page 164 of the novel, which is about the life of an over-achieving daughter of Indian immigrants, resembled Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. The passage reads:
"You're a traitor, Jenny!" I said. The New York Times reported that a lyrical passage on page 70 resembles the work of poet Walt Whitman:
"Am not!" Jenny replied. "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."
"My daddy's country place is a thousand acres," Buffy said. Finally, the long sequence in pages 213-29, in which the title character is lost in a cave and menaced by a first-generation Indian immigrant named Joe is much the same as a passage from Mark Twain's "Adventures of Tom Sawyer."
"Oh, that's not so big," I said.
"Oh yeah? Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? Have you even reckon'd the earth much? Do you even know how to read?"
"Yes, I can read your face, and it says loser. You may be interested in real estate, but I'm a poet. Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?"
A spokesperson for Little, Brown, Viswanathan's publisher, refused comment except to say "We thought the 'Indian Joe' sequence was a brilliant ethnic satire."
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Thursday, April 27, 2006
MehtaPhor -- end of Act II
Kaavya Viswanathan has gone from a half million dollar book deal to being accused of plagarism, but her publisher has stood by her, saying things like what a fine young person she was.
Courtesy Galleycat, a NYT story saying publisher Little, Brown has asked bookstores to pull Viswanathan's novel "How Opal Methta, Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life" from shelves.
Stores will receive a full refund from the publisher. Man, that's got to cut into your royalties.
Meanwhile, a U.K. writer said never mind the plagarism charges, what about the utter crap the book is full of? The title of the piece: "Harvard should be worried."
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Courtesy Mediabistro, an AP story in which author Kaavya Viswanathan says she was shocked," shocked to see so many similarities between her book "How Opal Mehta..." and... well, you know the story. The NY Times has a nice piece on the "book packager," 17th St. Productions, now known as Alloy Entertainment. The piece contains the curious clue that one Claudia Gabel, a former editor of Megan McCafferty, author of the original books from which Viswanathan is alleged to have copied, then worked at Alloy during the genesis of "Opal Mehta."
Mm-hmm, yes. But did she hire someone who did -- someone like the author quoted in this Harvard Independent piece on 17th St./Alloy?
But Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House, the publishing company that owns Crown, said Ms. Gabel, who worked at Alloy from the spring of 2003 until last November, had left the company "before the editorial work was completed" on Ms. Viswanathan's book.
"Claudia told us she did not touch a single line of Kaavya's writing at any point in any drafts," said Mr. Applebaum, who added that Ms. Gabel was one of several people who worked on the project in its conceptual stage.
Then, courtesy Galleycat, a link to a report in the Harvard Crimson (which first broke the whole story, last Saturday) on a personal appearance by McCafferty, who refrained from commenting on the whole thing. No doubt she has lawyers with hungry eyes on Viswanathan's half-million dollar advance.
You know, I don't care about the young, rich and very attractive Ms. Kaavya Viswanathan or her book. It's just entertaining to watch her and everyone around her twist clowly in the wind on this thing.
Anyway, you're wasting your time looking to my blog for info on this. Read Galleycat -- they're on it like a rug. And for even more -- see this entry on Old Hag, with its link at the bottom to a Slate article... This story has legs, folks.
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Give me your tired Harvard sophomores
There's a whole mini-scandal going on over a novel by -- perhaps I should say "by" in quotes -- Kaavya Viswanathan, an attractive Indian-American Harvard sophomore. The book, with the cringe-worthy but marketable title How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, got a lot of attention because of its author's youth and because it got a half million dollar advance.
Unfortunately, it turns out the book contains many passages quite similar to novels by Megan McCafferty, of whose work Viswanathan now says she is a "big fan," and she must have "unconsiciously" soaked up McCafferty's prose. The story has now percolated ot the point where there's a NYT story.
Galleycat is all over this, so read their posts about the author apologizing for the "similarities" and especially this bit on 17th St. Productions, the "book packager" who may actually be the people responsible for getting Viswanathan into this mess. Backstory: Viswanathan originally turned in a "much darker" first draft, but after 17th St. got ahold of it, it turned into a fluffy teen-ready chicklit novel.
Previously: The Soy Luck Club
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Movie review by proxy: The Heart is Deceitful...
The very brave and selfless Thomas Roche went where no one has gone before -- and where very few people are likely to go: he sat through, and reviews the "J.T. LeRoy"-adapted film The Heart is De Seat Full of All Things. (Thanks to Violet Blue for the link.)
So, the short version: This "not at all autobiographical" "fiction" is, and I'm putting this as delicately as I can, in close competition for the title of "Most Egregiously Ridiculous Piece of Shit the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Have Ever produced." Hell!! It may be the most egregiously ridiculous piece of human culture ever created, though I'm sure there's some pretty bad cave paintings out there.
As such, Deceitful really should blow Showgirls out of the water as the ideal drunken-screaming-queen date movie, and in many ways is just begging for the Rocky Horror Picture Show treatment. I, for one, spent the last half of the movie sketching out my Halloween costume.
I'm sure that makes it sound a lot more fun than it is. You know how they say we're all supposed to "support the troops?" Roche deserves combat pay, and perhaps some R&R, for his sacrifice.
JT LeRoy, Thomas Roche,movies, film reviews
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Today's fake: LeRoy redux
We go once more to the well for some investigation into the J.T. LeRoy hoax. Today SF Chronicle writer Heidi Benson -- who first wrote that LeRoy's real identity didn't matter, and only weeks later, when the hoax was revealed by others, finally found it in herself to actually knock on the door of the Albert-Knoop residence, from which the principals had already fled -- publishes a long piece in which all the "clues" and background to the LeRoy farce are listed. Laura Albert -- author of the LeRoy tomes -- has a playwright mother. Geoffrey Knoop -- whose half-sister played LeRoy during photo shoots and live appearances -- has a filmmaker father.
The only other new information in the piece is the fact that the first LeRoy bestseller, "Sarah," has been optioned by film director Steven Shainberg, director of "Secretary;" and some interesting details from a Vanity Fair photo shoot in which assistants to photographer Mary Ellen Mark were told not to engage "JT" in any way, even as they were doing "his" makeup, but to direct all statements and questions to "Speedie," née Albert. Mark says she read "JT" as a woman all the way, but didn't speak up; in addition, "JT"'s voice gave her away: "It was someone from a good family, not someone who came from any poor white trash" as "JT" was supposed to have done. It makes you wonder about how many other of the celebrities she has photographed are frauds and phonies about whom she's had to hold her tongue.
Benson does make one interesting point in the piece, where she creates a context for the LeRoy hoax in "San Francisco subcultures (which) don't just co-exist; they coalesce.
From Polk Street1 to North Beach2, the Mission3 to SoMa4, the music scene overlaps with performance art, which overlaps with the erotica scene, which overlaps with the queer scene, which overlaps with the literary set. The same faces pop up at LitQuake, the Red Devil Longue, Burning Man and the Exotic Erotic Ball.
That synchronicity defined the mid-90s, when the LeRoy hoax incubated. Anyone with cultural aspirations was in a band, making a movie, staging a one-person show, organizing a festival or a fundraiser or all of the above. It was the height of DIY culture, part of the punk ethos that inspired zines (the blogs of the day) by the hundreds. In this milieu, Albert began faxing messages to editors and writers, starting with hipster novelist Dennis Cooper...
That's a very smart couple of paragraphs, for a couple of reasons. First, the "overlapping" she talks about is very real, and it describes me and most of the people I know. I did almost all the things she talks about, though I started in the early 80s and by the mid-90s was about done. I did performance art, wrote erotica, held benefits (though I never attended Burning Man nor do I know anyone who thinks the Ex.Er. Ball is for anyone besides tourists -- true freaks go to the Folsom Street Fair, while the Ex.Er. Ball is for straight people). Secondly, the notion that this subcultural ferment created a petri dish for the LeRoy hoax rings true. The overlapping demimondes of San Francisco have space for all kinds of weird ideas.
Finally, to her credit, Benson quotes two local writers, Susie Bright and Michelle Tea, who have expressed outrage at the hoax (unlike Mark, who takes it in stride, and Benson herself, whose original piece on the LeRoy hoax, coming months after initial reports, was inconclusive and did more to confuse the issue than to shed light on it). My favorite outraged take on the whole thing is still Violet Blue's; she nails the real issue, which is authenticity versus posing, not as a way to separate the in-crowd from the tourists, but as a way to judge whether someone's statements and work is of value.
One more time: this matters because of the war in Iraq. If Bush can lie about WMDs; if he can present himself as a folksy Texas rancher rather than the privileged child of millionaires; if he can pretend his actions are patriotic rather than the machinations of a bunch of rich indistrialists and investors who have taken over the government, then why should readers be any more discriminating about the provenance of purported non-fiction. The difference between truth and lies matters.
Much more interesting is the piece by Jack Boulware in Salon two weeks ago which revealed Laura Albert's backround in the subcultures of SF with much greater detail. Boulware's thesis -- that Albert embarked on the whole scheme because she wanted fame -- makes clear the most ironic element of the whole thing. Her works earned the author fame, all right -- but only in a way that meant she could never reveal her true identity. Instead she had to live vicariously as "JT"'s sidekick Speedie, listening to her husband's sister communicate in gruff monosyllables. That must have been a drag.
And when the truth was finally known, Albert was generally condemned for perpetuating the hoax. There are several people who say they admire its audacity and success, but there are more condemning her as the ultimate fraud. Yeah, she's going to do a tell-all, but honestly, you think the same people who thought it was cool to get "JT LeRoy" to write for "Deadwood" or the NYT travel section will think it's cool to get Laura Albert to do that? NFW.
1 - Polk Street is the downmarket street for gay male culture and ground zero for tranny and boy hookers; tricking on Polk St. was supposedly part of the "LeRoy" bio
2 - North Beach is the traditional home of the Beats and is still regarded as a place where literature and writing are cherished
3 - The Mission is the new generation's North Beach, where housing is still relatively cheap and where there are tons of bookstores, galleries, bars and performance spaces
4 - SoMa is a sort of second-rate copy of the Mission District; it's always had fewer bookstores, galleries and such, but it is the home of the sex demimonde, with all the leather bars and leather accoutrements stores.
JT LeRoy, Mary Ellen Mark,Heidi Benson, hoaxes, fakes
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Today's fake: Barry
There's a big feature on Salon on Laura Albert, who wrote J.T. LeRoy's books.
But that's not today's fake. That's old news.
Today's fake: Barry Lamar Bonds.
A single statistic in today's Chronicle story tells the whole sad truth. Barry hit a home run every 16.2 at-bats during the first 13 years of his career. Beginning in 1999 -- when he turned 25 -- he began taking steroids, and nearly doubled his output, hitting a home run every 8.5 at-bats.
This passage from a TV review in today's NY Times by Ginia Bellafante is pertinent:
If reality television can be said to be about anything at all, it seems to be about impersonation and the odd and increasingly tenacious hold it has on the American psyche. The crooked-nosed are made over and play the genetically good-looking. Heiresses get out of their $200,000 sports cars and enact the habits of the agriculturally inclined. A vegan mother from Boulder trades houses with an evangelical wife in Mobile, is encouraged to care about scripture and breakfast sausage, and essentially tries to pass.
Reality television, as we know it, in fact, could exist only in a culture infatuated with passing -- a world where white suburban boys dress to look more like Nelly and Punjabi girls from Queens wear blue contact lenses to link them closer in appearance to someone who might trace her lineage four generations in Laguna Beach.
And where a legitimate baseball superstar, jealous of the success and fame of a white player who cheated by using steroids, takes steroids himself to double his home run output and surpass the white player's figures and fame.
Too bad it was all a fake.
Barry Bonds, JT LeRoy, fakes, steroids
Monday, February 06, 2006
BREAKING: Geoffrey Knoop -- whose half-sister Savannah Knoop was revealed last month as the public face of "JT LeRoy" and whose girlfriend Laura Albert was the prime suspect as author of the JT LeRoy novels and hoax -- has come forward to confirm details of the hoax.
Knoop's confession included the detail that the controversy -- overshadowed by the James Frey imbroglio -- had broken up his 16-year relationship with Albert, and "If you're feeling more and more suffocated by the complications and lies, it's not worth it."
hoaxes, JT Leroy, Knoop, literary hoaxes
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
High-profile agent's favorite new client has 'no persona'
Stung by recent literary hoaxes, fakes, and general wool-pulling, agents and publishers are a little gun-shy, AP writer Hillel Italie reports. The story quotes JT Leroy's erstwhile agent as speaking in favorable tones of a new client:
I have a nice relationship with him, I like the work and he's not telling me that he's an HIV positive, drug-addicted prostitute. There's no persona. He's just an average person not pretending to be anything.
See? Boring is the new interesting.
The piece makes an interesting point: They have fact checkers at The New Republic and the NYT, and that didn't stop Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass from making stuff up.
hoaxes, agents, literary hoaxes, JT Leroy
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Dept. of fakes
In an interview on Book Standard, a Vanity Fair photographer who took a picture of "JT LeRoy" (i.e. Savannah Knoop who, it has been revealed, merely played the non-existent author in public) says she knew it was a girl all the time, and furthermore could tell the person she was photographing was not the product of the troubled background as told in the "LeRoy" bio.
In other fakery, the publisher of an upcoming children's book will not release the book after all, since early readers discovered the author lifted the title and part of the text from a 1983 book. Strangest thing? The author and publisher are the same person.
JT Leroy, Savannah Knoop, hoaxes, fakes, plagarism
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Friday, January 27, 2006
It's Bad Behavior Friday™!
First (Courtesy Rachel Kramer Bussel) , some hot librarian type with glasses finds Moby Dick highly erotic:
I'm going to make a bold statement here: a bunch of dudes on a whaling boat is even sexier than a bunch of pirates on a pirate ship. ... I mean, pirates are awesome and wear rad outfits and are swashbucklingly violent and all, but whaling dudes are all butch, they get filthy, their skin gets all tough and leathery, and they thrust their harpoons into the whale again and again, in and out, until its hot quivering flesh is still. See what I mean?
I think my semester will be a hell of a lot more interesting if I can spin erotic fantasies around all of my assigned reading. I mean, I'm interested in the reading already, but if I can masturbate to it I can reduce my porn-viewing time and increase my time spent on reading. Everybody wins! Especially Herman Melville!
Now she would be a good subject for my What Are You Working On series. I don't believe her name is really Audacia, though. It sounds like one of those spambot names I was talking about yesterday.
And, also courtesy Rachel K-B, A Million Little Penises. Worth it for the graphic.
You know, about that whole Oprah-Frey episode we've just lived through -- could there be anything possibly more satisfying? Not only is a too-full-of-himself, falsely humble millionaire author humiliated on national television and in the national media, but he's practically emasculated (as Virginia Heffnan put it in today's NYT) -- and by a black woman. Imagine her taking Abramoff apart on that off-white couch. Imagine Cheney under "her whip hand," as Heffernan -- obviously worked up by the whole thing -- also put it.
More fakes: As the sun sets on James Frey, it's rising on the less well-known but possibly even more heinous "Nasdijj" (that's two j's if you're keeping score at home). Galleycat has the latest, including links to proof that the self-described Navajo writer is really a white bisexual leatherman named Tim Barrus who wrote several gay male porn books. Badger, a Bay Area blogger with friends in the leather community, explains why the PEN award-winning author's cultural appropriation is even more shameful than the wool-pulling perpetrated by Frey and the JT Leroy scammers.
james Frey, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Moby Dick, Audacia Ray, Chris Genoa, Oprah, Virginia Heffernan
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Today's Big Fake: Nasdijj
Not content with the James Frey and JT LeRoy imbroglios or the firing of SF Weekly's 'The Infiltrator', LA Weekly has uncovered -- the right word, since the book was published in 2000 -- another memoir hoax. Courtesy Mediabistro.
This one's about a supposedly Navajo writer who called himself Nasdijj and got Houghton Mifflin to publish a book called The Blood Runs Like A River Through My Dreams. That ring any bells? Didn't think so. Nevertheless, it shows how eager publishers and readers are for stories of struggle, suffering and redemption.
More bang for the buck (ouch!): In the SF Chronicle today, cartoonist Don Asmussen suggests JT Leroy was actually Carol Channing.
hoaxes, literary hoaxes
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Monday, January 23, 2006
Upcoming LeRoy film 'based on a true story'
Leroy redux: upcoming film 'based on a true story'?
Perhaps the people most unhappy about the uncovering of the J.T. Leroy hoax -- an event which has reached sufficient infamy as to no longer require a referential hyperlink, just as you don't have to hyperlink a general reference to 9/11, the 2000 Florida recount, or other infamous events -- is the company which is about to release a film based on the "Leroy" novel 'The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things' -- and hey, wasn't that title, in retrospect, really just a cry for help?
That WWD article says Palm Pictures is the film's distributor, but I can't find any reference to the film on their website, though the film does have its own site (somewhat NSFW graphic there); there "MUSE Productions" is listed as the producer. There the film appears on its annoying Flash-created website.
Well, this is all going to be an excellent test of the dictum "There is no such thing as bad publicity." Though they might want to change the poster's tagline BASED ON A TRUE STORY. As BlackBook says, "How about 'based on a complete and utter lie?'"
BlackBook, JT Leroy, Muse productions, Palm Pictures, hoaxes
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
'Other writers latched onto JT Leroy as career move'
I asked a writer acquaintance who also works for Last Gasp, JT Leroy's publisher, for a reaction to the protests by writers and editors who feel ripped off, either psychically or professionally, by the JT Leroy hoax. Without commenting on the question of whether Last Gasp's star author does or does not exist, he responded in part:
If people worked for free for someone else, shame on them. Every minute that I've worked for JT has been on the clock. (...)
Do you think people were really trying to show support to a troubled youth? Maybe 6 years ago, but up until the last October, they were hounding me to get to him. People latched on to him to try to forward their own careers. That's who's really upset.
"Last October" is when the article in New York by Stephen Beachy ran, exposing the Leroy hoax.
The reason I asked this guy at Last Gasp is that in November 2004 he invited me and several other writers to participate in one of those readings of Leroy's work -- a book launch in which the author does not show up so local literary figures take turns reading from the book. (Susie Bright described one such event.)
At the time I did not question the concept of an author not appearing at his own book launch and having others read in his stead; my only concern was that I had a prior engagement. My writing group was meeting that night, so I decided to say no. But to be honest, if I had been able to, I would have participated enthusiastically, partly because of the reason my contact cited: to forward my own career by appearing in a reading with other more famous people.
It certainly didn't occur to me to question whether or not the author actually existed -- why would it? If someone emails me and says "We're having a book release for JT LeRoy's Last Gasp book, Harold's End," I have to understand there's a person named JT LeRoy -- there's no other way of understanding the sentence. If someone asks me to come to a potluck birthday party, I can be pretty sure the word "potluck" means everyone is going to bring some food to share, not some nutty meaning you might find in a New Yorker cartoon showing two explorers standing in a cannibal's kettle with one saying to the other "When you said it was potluck I thought you meant...."
JT Leroy, Last Gasp, hoax
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
Monday, January 09, 2006
Courtesy Supernaut, here's a post by Susie Bright on being duped by the J.T. Leroy hoax. In it she admits being fooled by the complex hoax until a week before the Stephen Beachy piece appeared in New York magazine, she was late-night phone-called by the person whose voice she knew as "LeRoy's."
What's interesting about Susie's post is how much it resembles the statements, or ramblings, attributed by journalists to Leroy: at the same time it reveals a personal, embarrassing tale, it's full of references to her own fame and career.
Of course, Susie has the right to be upset about feeling personally ripped off, in a psychic if not literal way, by the frauds behind the Leroy persona. But as I said in my last post, I think the real outrage is that the Leroy hoaxers are exploiting public sympathy for people with AIDS and transgender people as a way to explain or excuse their own sloppy stewardship of the Leroy persona -- namely the appointment of an inarticulate amateur fashion model, whose command of English has no similarity to Leroy's written prose, to pose as Leroy in public.
Just look at the comments of Ira Silverberg, "Leroy's" own literary agent:
People were deceived in a brutal way: playing the AIDS card to elicit support, money, connections. That is simply unacceptable. It is morally reprehensible.
J.T. Leroy, Susie Bright
Labels: fakes, hoaxes
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