Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Monday, January 09, 2006
 
Literary Deceit

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.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
Apartment Therapy
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Dave Barry
The Bellman
Mine's On The 45 (Brimful)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
ChennaiCentral
ClimateBoy
Combing the Sphere
Crooked Timber
Daily Dose of Imagery
The Daily Rhino (Bong Breaker)
Dark Days Ahead
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Atanu Dey on India's Development (Deeshaa)
Daniel Drezner
Ennis
Ephemera
Cyrus Farivar
Finding My Voice
Forsv
Neil Gaiman
Ganesh Blog
Geeky Chic 2.0 (Echan)
Geomblog
Green Ink!
Heliolith
Alexandra Huddleston
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Indeterminacy
India Uncut
InSpiteOfEverything
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
Mark A. R. Kleiman
KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
1Locana
Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Corey Pein
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Kevin G. Powell
QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
Tech Policy
TiffinBox
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
TreeHugger
Unfogged
VatulBlog
Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
War and Piece
Wonkette
Yglesias:Tpmcafe

Photo Blogs
Daily Dose of Imagery
Ephemera
Alexandra Huddleston
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
TiffinBox

Columbia Journalism Folks
Apartment Therapy
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
Ranajit Dam
Cyrus Farivar
Alexandra Huddleston
InSpiteOfEverything
Corey Pein
Nick Schager
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

Literature, Fiction and Entertainment
Dave Barry
Neil Gaiman
Electrolite: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Scott McCloud


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