Fakers: Hoaxers, Con Artists, Counterfeiters, and Other Pretenders

Fakers: Hoaxers, Con Artists, Counterfeiters, and Other Pretenders

Book rating: 01 Hardback

By (author) Paul Maliszewski

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  • Publisher: The New Press
  • Format: Hardback | 245 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 193mm x 28mm | 363g
  • Publication date: 11 June 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1595584226
  • ISBN 13: 9781595584229
  • Sales rank: 13,535

Product description

Why would two poets invent a fake writer, complete with a fake oeuvre and compelling life story, and then submit their fabrication to a literary magazine? Why might a biographer claim to have interviewed Howard Hughes and collaborated on the reclusive billionaire's autobiography despite never having met him? Why would a journalist concoct an eight-year-old junkie and then write an article about him, later winning a Pulitzer Prize for her invention? Why might memoirists pretend to be a Holocaust survivor, a gang member, and a recovered addict with a prison record? And why do we believe such wild fictions that masquerade as the truth? Why are we forever getting fooled by frauds? Paul Maliszewski explores the teeming varieties of fakery, from its historical roots in satire and con artistry to its current boom, starring James Frey and his false memories of drug-addled dissolution and the author formerly known as JT LeRoy with his fake rural tough talk. Journeying into the heart of our fake world, Maliszewski tells tales of the "New York Sun"'s 1835 moon hoax as well as his own satiric contributions to a newspaper--pieces written, unbeknownst to its editor, while the author worked there as a reporter. For anyone who has ever lied or been lied to, "Fakers" tells us much about what we believe and why we still get conned. The essays in "Fakers "explore: Jayson Blair's faked "New York Times" stories, about Jessica Lynch and much else Early American con artists Oscar Hartzell and the longrunning Drake's fortune scam Internet hoaxes about man-eating bears Han van Meegeren's forged Vermeers Clifford Irving's fake autobiography of Howard Hughes Michael Chabon's fictionalized version of his early years Binjamin Wilkomirski's fabricated Holocaust memoir In-depth interviews with three fakers: journalist Michael Finkel, painter Sandow Birk, and performance artist Joey Skaggs

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Author information

Paul Maliszewski has published his fiction and essays in Bookforum, Harper's, Granta, and the Paris Review, and his stories have twice received a Pushcart Prize. "Fakers "is his first book. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Customer reviews

By Ruth Sard 19 Jun 2013 1

Engagingly written, the first section of the book into Paul Maliszewski's own writings is both sad and amusing - amusing because so many of the examples he gives are obviously satirical, sad because these articles were believed due to the expectations of their readers and publishers.

The entire book is a tribute to the fraud and fakeries of phony journalism and (mainly) writing (from deliberate misrepresentation to lazy fact checking and plagiarism which allows the internet-moderated version of gossip and 'chinese whispers' to bring 'reality' to what isn't) to some examples ranging from art fraud to plain cons. Unfortunately (or should that be fortunately?) the result seems to be a bland recitation rather than a study - an impression strengthened by the lack of any kind of bibliography (or even a short index).

The book is a light, generalist introduction to the field (as it were) , but if you are interested in more detailed who/when/where/why and how you'll want to delve further and I, at least, was left feeling mildly dissatisfied. A read for a day when concentration is low.

Review quote

"Not only is "Fakers" beautifully written and fun to read, but it is tremendously useful. It explains clearly and with perfectly chosen examples just what the distinction is between pointed pranks and lazy fabrications, and between satire and malice. And unlike previous efforts on the subject, this one is entirely in favor of the imagination." -- Luc Sante, author of "Low Life" and "Kill All Your Darlings" "Here it is, the one true guide to the world of forgery. Paul Maliszewski shows us how to distinguish the masterpieces from the frauds, the inspired fakes from the merely counterfeit, tossing off along the way a few gemlike examples of the former. This is a perfect book for our pompous, authenticity-grubbing times." -- Thomas Frank, author of "The Wrecking Crew" and "What's the Matter with Kansas"?