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

Paul Maliszewski, Author . New Press $23.95 (245p) ISBN 978-1-59558-422-9

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.)

Reviewed on: 11/03/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!