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

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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 "show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 245 pages
  • 137.16 x 193.04 x 27.94mm | 362.87g
  • The New Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1595584226
  • 9781595584229
  • 21,184

Review quote

[...] Fakers is packed with plenty of shaggy-dog stories about elaborate hoaxes-in 1999, a man named Joey Skaggs created a company called Final Curtain that promised to build cemeteries complete with restaurants and gift shops. Lesser writers could be tempted to coast on the sheer novelty of these stories. But Maliszewski has a curious mind and a sharp pen, so his book becomes a lot more. Of course, that's assuming we can trust him. -- Jonathan Messingershow more

About Paul Maliszewski

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. "show more

Our customer reviews

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.show more
by Ruth Sard