Not one, but two huge stories of literary deceit today. In short: James Frey
makes stuff up. Lots of it. And JT LeRoy
may not even exist!The Smoking Gun
, long an excellent if somewhat salacious resource for all your celebrity run-ins with the law, has posted an extraordinarily detailed account of how Frey apparently
(that's just me being unnecessarily careful, really) fabricated his memoirs. Now, when I read A Million Little Pieces
, I did find some sections difficult to believe (especially the dentistry sans anesthesia), but Smoking Gun reveals Frey has hardly spent a day in jail, despite his elaborate claims to the contrary. Check out the Smoking Gun expose
and note its wonderfully subtle, yet satirical header graphic.
As for LeRoy, I haven't read much of his, um, work, but the NYT contends that the person often presumed to be LeRoy in photos is actually a woman. Furthermore, she is apparently the half-sister of Geoffrey Knoop, one-half of the couple who supposedly rescued LeRoy, a runaway 16-year-old truck stop prostitute, who they found stumbling about in a daze. So, there's question as to whether LeRoy even exists and who actually writes his material. New York magazine
believes it's Laura Albert, the other half of that literary couple. (It's quite fascinating to look at photo of the supposed writer at the link above and to realize that the real writer may actually be the woman beside him/her.) Under the name Emily Frasier, Albert has even left rave reviews of LeRoy's book Sarah
on Amazon. Also, the two psychologists form a band Thistle
and LeRoy supposedly writes their lyrics. Neither of the couple use their real names in the band. There's no indication on the band's site
that the couple claiming to be band members with LeRoy, also claim to be his rescuers under different names. Coupla hustlers, I reckon.
Two literary rock stars exposed, almost simultaneously. Makes you wonder: who else out there's a fraud? In the comments recently, Scotto asked, "what's the difference between a real and a fictional person?" It's an interesting question. How about, what's the difference between a real and a fictional author? And what are the important distinctions between a pseudonym (Mark Twain), an embellished persona (James Frey?), and an utterly fictitious fabrication (JT LeRoy
The NYT article concludes with a sobering thought:
It is unclear what effect the unmasking of Ms. Knoop will have on JT LeRoy's readers, who are now faced with the question of whether they have been responding to the books published under that name, or to the story behind them.
The latter is certainly possible I should think, but in that case, why not just publish the work under your own name (or a pseudonym if you must) and let its themes speak for themselves? Unfortunately, I suspect, it all comes down to the $$$.
On a lighter note, Neil Pollack confesses
(in typically profane fashion) to his own sordid past and literary misdeeds.