cover image Keep It Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life

Keep It Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life

Eric G. Wilson. Sarah Crichton Books, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-0-374-18102-4

Literature professor Wilson (Against Happiness) delves beneath the surface of self-help platitudes in this wide-ranging yet personal work. In a series of 50 short, op-ed-style essays, he cites such thinkers as Plato, Borges, Alan Ginsberg, Schopenhauer, and William James in erudite and resonant explorations of the theme of living a productive and rewarding life of the mind. Wilson acknowledges the difficulty of doing so in the real world and in the face of depression and bipolar disorder. A gifted, candid raconteur, he serves up pithy and often playful writing that serves to remind us that “by the time we become aware of ourselves we are already trapped in fictions not of our making,” and the only way out is to write new stories for ourselves. What seems real may actually be fake, and vice versa, but fortunately, as Bill Murray’s character in Meatballs—another touchstone for the author—declares, “it just doesn’t matter.” Readers should be left entertained and enlightened by Wilson’s vast knowledge, immediacy, and honesty. Agent: Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists. (May)