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

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9781595584229: Fakers: Hoaxers, Con Artists, Counterfeiters, and Other Great Pretenders

For anyone who has ever lied—or been lied to—True-life tales about faking, from Clifford Irving to Stephen Glass, by an award-winning writer.

Fakers are believed—and, at least for a time, celebrated—because they each promise us, screen-gazing and experience-starved, something real and authentic, a view, however fleeting, of a great thing rarely glimpsed. —from Fakers

From James Frey and his fake memories of drug-addled dissolution to Stephen Glass and his fake dispatches from the fringes of politics to the author formerly known as JT LeRoy and his fake rural tough talk, we are beset by real-seeming fiction masquerading as truth. We are living in the era of the fake.

Fakers is a fascinating exploration of the varieties of faking, from its historical roots in satire and con artistry to its current boom. Paul Maliszewski journeys into the heart of our fake world, telling tales of the New York Sun's 1835 moon hoax, the invented poet Ern Malley (the inspiration for Peter Carey's novel My Life as a Fake), and Maliszewski's own satiric letters to the editor of the Business Journal of Central New York (written, unbeknownst to the editor, while he worked there as a reporter). Through these stories, he explains why fakers almost always find believers and often flourish.

Since 1997, the author has been on the trail of fakers and believers, asking the tricksters why they dissembled and the believers why they were ever fooled. Fakers tells us much about what we believe and want, why we trust, and why we still get duped.

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 long-running 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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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



About the Author:

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.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Book Description The New Press, United States, 2009. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 193 x 137 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAT9781595584229

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