Friday, April 11, 2008

Frauds and fakes

I saw a play last night - kinda sorta about the JT Leroy thing, and the James Frey thing, and the Stephen Glass thing and a thing I hadn't heard of - the Nasdijj thing.

All literary fraud things. Fakes. Hoaxes, really. But...

George Eliot wasn't a George, she was a Marian, who submitted her work as a man because she knew it wouldn't be considered for publication otherwise. And George Sand wasn't a George either - she was, in fact, a Baroness, who found going about as a female too constricting, so she didn't. And Mark Twain's real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. (Alright, that's not exactly the same thing, but I wanted to throw it in there anyway, because I happen to remember his full real name.)

I'll grant you that they then wrote fiction that didn't depend quite so, er, significantly on their assumed persona. Certainly not on being a teenage gay hustler (JT LeRoy); a recovered alcoholic, drug addict, and criminal (James Frey); a Native American raising a son with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (Nadijj); or a journalist reporting the news, or what was purportedly the news (Stephen Glass).


Seems to me that these days, every week is a new episode of "Which Lie Did I Tell?" (thank you William Goldman), offering a strong lead-in to the latest and greatest reality show we're all watching, "Fess Up or Keep Lying?" which could re-use the Jetsons' theme (sing with me now): "Meet Bill Clinton... his wife Hill'ry. Congressman Craig. Gov Spitzer. Fess up or keep lyin'?"

Political fraud, literary hoaxes. Fiction - clearly - doesn't hold a candle to the outpourings of courageous and valiant individuals who have suffered and survived, who have known hardship and heartache, and who, by the way, not only know how to string a sentence together, but who also happen to have a movie-in-the-making backstory. And I'm not talking about the Bush twins.

(Note: Those aren't pictures of Britney - those are pictures of the girl who posed as the boy who was supposed to be JT LeRoy, who turned out to be a 40 year old woman named Laura. And I'm not talking about the First Lady.)

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