Faking It

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

James Frey and JT Leroy stunned readers and publishers when it became clear they weren’t who they said they were, but they were hardly the first to pull a hoax. Paul Maliszewski was one of those literary fakers when he worked for a small business magazine. He explains how he did it and why in his book Fakers: Hoaxers, Con Artists, Conterfeiters and Other Great Pretenders.

Paul Maliszewski will be in conversation with Book Critic, Eric Banks
Wed Feb 18th at 7pm
McNally Jackson Booksellers
52 Prince St NYC


Paul Maliszewski

Comments [4]

Anonnie Muss from East Village

Really interesting interview so far and a great show today overall.
Michael from Brooklyn, that's a great point, but although I am not particularly knowledgeable about Pessoa, I would argue that there is a big difference between his reasons for using heteronyms and someone like JT Leroy. During the time period Pessoa was active, membership in intellectual groups meant something. The cafes one went to meant something. Belonging to a particular group of friends meant something. Someone like Leroy appears to me to be making more of a purely aesthetic choice, and maybe not even that. Adopting a persona fashionable among hollywood people seems to me quite different from adopting a persona for intellectual reasons.

Feb. 18 2009 01:01 PM
David Harrington from Manhattan

I don't know if it's appropriate to put JT Leroy in the same category as Jason Blair or Bernie Madoff. They're all cons, but JT Leroy is a con in the realm of celebrity persona and entertainment. Or does your guest disagree?

My pespective: That entire world of celebrity novelist is fictionalized, to some extent, and it depends upon fantasy, inaccuracy, and wild stories. It is only a problem because, for some reason, we are in a mode that demands our stories have some verifiable reality . . . the way reality TV is based in reality but far from real.

Feb. 18 2009 12:56 PM
michael from brooklyn

This topic is quite pointed to the paper I’m working on while listing to the show. The works of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa and his heteronyms allowed him to have a creative freedom that a single voice would not allow. It seems important to consider the freedom that faking creates.

Feb. 18 2009 12:48 PM

What about Ern Malley, the most famous non-existent Australian poet?

Feb. 18 2009 12:47 PM

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