It’s pretty easy to hoax people. We all want to be deceived, but only up to a point. Some hoaxes are fun and pleasant, others malicious and unpleasant. We’d like a way to tell the difference (Robert Carroll).

Oct 22, 2008

Literary Hoaxes

In recent years, the Literary World was stricken by multiple literary fakeries. In 2006, an exhaustive expose on the Smoking Gun website alleged that bad-boy writer James Frey exaggerated and fabricated details in his best-selling addiction-and-redemption memoir and Oprah Book Club pick - A Million Little Pieces. It seems Frey’s violent and drug-addled youth - which the book at once embraces with a macho swagger and denounces with pious contrition - might not have been as harrowing or eventful as written.

The same year, the New York Times reported that HIV-positive, androgynous author JT Leroy was himself a fictional creation. It appears 25-year-old Leroy’s “autobiographical” fiction about his life as a truck-stop hustler and homeless drug addict is actually the work of Laura Albert, the 40-year-old woman Leroy claims rescued him from the street.

Meanwhile, Albert’s sister-in-law, Savannah Knoop, has been exposed as the mysterious figure in wigs and sunglasses that makes public appearances as Leroy, who along the way has befriended celebrities like Courtney Love, Billy Corgan and writer Mary Gaitskill.

Writers with a hard-luck memoir in the works may want to wait until the dust settles before approaching a publisher. With both of these swindles, industry insiders have spent the week alternately claiming they “suspected all along” that something was up and nervously defending their fact-checking processes.

But literary hoaxes are nothing new. From the beginning, here and there appeared fake authors, fake books, and even fake readers.

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Category Table of Content

1. I, Libertine
2. Hitler’s Diary Discovered
3. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
4. AN Wilson is a shit 
5. The Education of Little Tree 
6. Donation of Constantine
7. The Priory of Sion
8. Awful Disclosures by Maria Monk
9. True Story of Cranky Old Man
10. The Case of M. Valdemar
11. Naked Came the Stranger
12. My Sister and I by “Friedrich Nietzsche”

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