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Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy Paperback – Bargain Price, October 7, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, October 7, 2008
$10.65 $2.87

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From Booklist

When is an HIV-positive, transgender, ex-truck-stop-prostitute turned pseudo-celebrity novelist none of the above? When the faux man of letters is JT Leroy, revealed to be erstwhile community-college coed Savannah Knoop, who masqueraded as her middle-aged sister-in-law Laura’s nom de plume. At 18, Knoop started living in public as JT, “a boy who became a girl, still pretending to be a boy.” Secret thumbsucker and compulsive overeater Laura, who was JT’s publicist, Speedie, created JT as a metaphor for her own pain—perhaps. Eventually, portraying JT became Savannah’s “exciting reprieve from real life. He had access to a world so beyond what I thought could be my own.” The game ran for seven years, ending in a 2006 public revelation/scandal. “The whole experience had been a contagious lie,” quoth Savannah, “that spread and obstructed what I wanted my life to be.” What with snapshots and celebrity photos, her confession’s a breezy, fast, oddly likable read for fans of bizarre deceit or, perhaps, just the bizarre. --Whitney Scott

About the Author

SAVANNAH KNOOP began to lead a double life in 1999 at the age of eighteen, when her sister-in-law asked her to be the face of JT LeRoy, author of the internationally acclaimed novels Sarah and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Their true identities were revealed in 2006. Knoop began designing clothing six years ago and formed a clothing company under the name of Tinc. She lives in San Francisco.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; A Seven Stories Press 1st Ed edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583228519
  • ASIN: B005IUX28Y
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,593,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Savannah Knoop's well written account of her experience as the body [or wig and glasses] of J. T. LeRoy, the famed but fictitious truckstop-boy-turned-author, is rivetting even if you've never read a LeRoy book or seen the movie. Simply put, the experience of seeing how people react to her when they think she's not just a he but also a victim and a celebrity is a fascinating exposure of the projections people make and of celebrity culture. Knoop captures both the humor and pathos of never being sure what people are seeing or reacting to when they believe her to be JT. Also, it is surprisingly easy to sympathize with Knoop, as she was not the mastermind of the hoax but in many ways simply a conveniently aimless and exploited sister-in-law. Her vexed relation to Laura Albert, equal parts admiration and resentment [and a sorority of shared eating disorders], is uncomfortable but very believable. Finally, this book interests not because it or the JT hoax is important in its own right but because of what it reveals about our insecurities, our self presentations, and our acute desires to be the sort of person, with the sort of experiences, others find desirable or charismatic -- to be, in short, the people we wish to be and are not.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Because I live in the very area where the fictitious author of tales of abuse and child prostitition, "JT LeRoy", was supposed to have arrived in to become a street hustler & author, and because the unmasking of LeRoy as Laura Albert was a big story in my town, I was so excited to get the behind-the-scenes story. Unfortunately, I was left wanting more information about Laura Albert, but I guess that's fair since the focus is on Savannah Knoop, the public impersonator of LeRoy. And it does say so in the title outright...so... I guess I can't fault Knoop for that. However, she isn't really that interesting! She does at least write pretty well, if at times overwrought. Her description of Asia Argento lying in bed was a bit purple-prosey, but since Argento is the object of much desire, I suppose that's ok. I suppose many people who would bed Argento would gush a bit.

The book mainly discusses the evolution of Knoop impersonating JT, appearing in a makeshift costume for interviews, photoshoots and any public appearances, with Albert as her sidekick/handler, "Speedie", as JT rises in the literary world and becomes a media darling, culiminating in a filmed version of one of the books. (Albert would handle extensive phone calling, while Knoop would be the public face of JT.)

The thing that first jumped out to me was: "How in the hell did people buy their shtick?!" Especially Albert as "Speedie"-- a cockney (yes -- cockney!!)street urchin (I actually laughed out loud picturing her going "'Ello, matey! Oim Speeday, and this 'ere's JayTeaa, doncha know!" Ridiculous!), and LeRoy as as homeless southerner, a truckstop hustler.
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Format: Paperback
When the story broke that JT Leroy didn't exist in the way he'd been said to exist, a lot of people on the periphery of this phenomena wanted to know more. Savannah Knoop provides not a typical insider's bitter wail but rather a heartfelt and clear-eyed tale of how the public face of a hip and cool author was created and thrived for a while. She's a good writer and is able to capture some of the manic, slap-dash nature of the enterprise that was JT Leroy and make it a good story.

In telling her part in this created life (her own life is compelling without JT in it) she displays a remarkable sense of having come to terms with being part of an invention that among many things "punked" a whole lot of people who don't care to be punked. But rather than providing more fuel to the fire of those who felt betrayed, Knoop gives a human face to the affair, one that is well-told and provides a sense of how these things are sometimes less than deliberate and more the product of often ingenious invention based on a startlingly clever reading of what people want to hear and in this case, see.

For those who feel betrayed or confused by what some call a hoax, this book goes some way to humanizing the people who put it all together and provide a sense of empathy if not compassion for them. For someone looking for a good read about post-modernist identity, the nature of who we are and especially how most people often see what they wish to see, this would be a good book to get as it is told by someone simply telling their story without pretense. GirlBoyGirl a candid account of the face of a remarkable event in modern publishing and entertainment.
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This book is very well written and relatable from what I've read so far.

However, if you're expecting the author to paint Laura Albert in a good light, well you're in for a different story. I found myself feeling awful for Savannah as well as anyone who had to interact with Laura Albert OR her alter ego, Speedie. Ms. Knoop describes Laura and her many flaws in a way that honestly makes me reconsider being a fan of "JT LeRoy"'s novels, but I have to remember that everyone has flaws and that that shouldn't detour me from enjoying her wonderfully dark works.
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