From Publishers Weekly
In this detailed if uneven meditation, Maliszewski explores the complicated world of deception and those who practice it. The book begins with the author defending his own habit of publishing letters to the editor under pseudonyms while working as a reporter in upstate New York. He describes his actions as satire, although his lengthy, sometimes bitter mea culpa drags by the end. However, his analysis of literary and journalistic deception—a sampling that includes Stephen Glass, James Frey and JT LeRoy—finds nuanced differences between the hoaxes, cons and outright lies while connecting them to universal themes. The book abounds with interviews and anecdotes about con men, art forgers and historical fakes, leading Maliszewski to conclude, Writing, after all, needn't be a mirror in which authors discover only themselves looking back and grinning. The author could stand to take a bit of his own advice, although the book as a whole does provide some interesting insights into the nature of deception. (Jan.)
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This fascinating survey of fakers and fabulists begins with a confession from the author that he, too, has been a faker: while he was employed as a writer for a business magazine, he wrote the occasional column under a variety of false identities. But he considered his fakes to be satires, not frauds. On the other hand, there are Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair, journalists who invented magazine and newspaper stories. There’s Clifford Irving, who famously faked an autobiography of Howard Hughes, and James Frey, who faked his own autobiography. There’s the story of a newspaper that announced the discovery of life on the moon, and much more. Maliszewski does not confine himself to simple recitations of the facts. He explores why these fakers undertook their often complex schemes and how they found audiences who would eagerly believe them, even when the schemes themselves would fall apart under close scrutiny. The book is not only about the fakers but also the faked and about our natural desire to believe the unbelievable—as long as the tale is told convincingly. --David Pitt