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My Life as a Fake

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  2,281 ratings  ·  229 reviews
Fiendishly devious and addictively readable, Peter Carey’s My Life as a Fake is a moral labyrinth constructed around the uneasy relationship between literature and lying. In steamy, fetid Kuala Lumpur in 1972, Sarah Wode-Douglass, the editor of a London poetry journal, meets a mysterious Australian named Christopher Chubb. Chubb is a despised literary hoaxer, carting aroun ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 4th 2005 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2003)
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Oct 01, 2009 Meg rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone who wants to be surprised, Australian fiction readers
Take a real literary hoax from 1940s Australia and mix with Frankenstein...this is what you get. If you are a genius. Lately I am going through a bit of an Australian/New Zealand reading craze. I had never heard of Peter Carey. Now I am a wreck who can't stop thinking about how much I would like to french this guy. I loved the strangeness of it...which seemed very Nabokov to me. I love authors who can take ridiculous set ups and make them so real you dream about nothing else while you're reading ...more
An exceptional novel from Peter Carey. It's even better than the amazing True History of the Kelly Gang. I can not recommend it too highly. A dazzler.
This is the second novel by Peter Cary I have read. His Illegal Self was the first. I liked My Life as a Fake much more. The language is rich and organic mirroring the jungle in which it takes place. The plot pulled my along as well. It kept things a mystery until the end.
The novel is narrated by Sarah Wode-Douglas, the editor of an English poetry magazine. She is traveling with a rich playboy poet who she blames for her mother’s suicide. He drags her to Kuala Lumpur. There she encounters Chris
In 1943 two conservative classicists set out to expose the absurdity of modernist poetry. Both James McAuley and Harold Stewart were classical trained poets, who didn’t think much about modernism; it didn’t rhyme, didn’t make sense and it just didn’t look right, it was fake poetry. If an everyman can abandon technique and rhythm and create poetry, what was the point of high art? They created this everyman, Ern Malley and submitted poetry under this name to the literary magazine Angry Penguins. T ...more
Amanda Patterson
The lyrical, elegant prose seduced me from page 1.
How could I resist this?
“That same year I was born… to a beautiful, impatient Australian mother and a no less handsome but rather posh English father, Lord Wiliam Wode-Douglass, generally known as Boofy.”
This book is based on the infamous Ern Malley scandal that took place in the 1940’s in Australia.
The story in the novel is about a hoax avant-garde poet who is created by a conservative academic named Christopher Chubb. He does this to teach his
This novel was disjointed, confusing, and annoying. At times there was clever dialogue which kept me going but ultimately it was to no avail as the entire thing collapsed on itself by the end. The story of a poetry magazine editor who travels to Malaysia with an acquaintance, the editor stumbles upon a man who presents a book full of poetry of such high caliber, the editor believes she has discovered the modern TS Elliot. However, with the poems comes the necessity of slowing prying apart the st ...more
This was my first Peter Carey, and if others say it is not his best, I'll definitely have to read his other works. I may have been predestined to like it because I work in the publishing world.
I disagree with people who say that it is confusing in content or in the way it is written. I like the jumps back and forth between "present day" and the past. One aspect that may be confusing is whether or not Chubb is crazy (or rather, how crazy), so it reads a bit like a psychological thriller. Carey le
Rosalind Minett
This review is from: My Life as a Fake (Paperback)

The problem with a 5 point scale for reviews is that scores are so unrefined. I never thought that I would be awarding such a celebrated author 3 stars. However, Amazon reviewers can only score against a measure that is relevant to the kind of work, or the kind of author. In this case, 3 stars represents my opinion of this novel in comparison with Peter Carey's others.

Early on, the narrator is shown to have had the cheek to send critical suggesti
Slow to get into, but once you do, you are taken on a whirlwind tour of a chase through Malaysia. Care's novel ends in a rather open-ended fashion, leaving you wondering how much of the story to believe.


I went to bed with the disconcerting knowledge that almost everything I had assumed about my life was incorrect, that I had been baptised in blood and raised on secrets and misconstructions which had, obviously, made me who I was (133).
This is a work that aims high, but ends up forgetting what its target was in the first place. If allowing Frankenstein to give an Asian travelogue is a brave move, telling the story via three unreliable narrators is perhaps a foolhardy one, which gives the novel it's disjointed feel. The early scenes are all based around empathising with the narrator as she's thrown into confusion regarding her present and past, and getting to know her via the meetings with the novels two other central character ...more
José Enrique Vivas M.
Genial. Por tratarse de un tema "para especialistas" -el de un engaño literario- pensé que podría toparme con un denso despliegue de referencias oscuras e ironías cultas, pero el libro se lee con la rapidez de un thriller. El lenguaje de Carey es además muy rico en metáforas y comparaciones, los diálogos rápidos y precisos, la aventura rica y colorida.

La editora de una revista inglesa de poesía es puesta en la pista de un material excepcional, por parte de un famoso y decadente escritor que adem
The narrator of My Life is a Fake is the English poetry editor Sarah Wode-Douglass. She travels to Kuala Lumpur on the invitation of her acquaintance, the poet John Slater, with whom she has a long and complicated past. By accident she meets Chubb who is working in a bicycle repair shop. He gives her a glimpse of a poem by the poet he created named McCorkle. Sarah is desperate to retrieve this poet's work to make her own claim to fame. However, first she must hear the whole gruesome story behind ...more
My Life As A Fake by Peter Carey is a strange, multi-layered journey through a man’s past, his artistic inspiration and his products, both illusory and real. Christopher Chubb is Australian and a budding poet. He resents the privilege of a certain litterateur and so he decides to nail him. An apparently genuine but actually bogus set of poems is supplied and adjudged significantly more than competent. The agent publishes. The material is fake. Chubb is accused and stands trial for his sins again ...more
Nick Sweeney
One of my favourite books of all time. As you probably know, it uses as its basis the Ern Malley hoax (see more at: ) which was an attempt at a critique of the taste for the Modern in Australian poetry, a dig at the pseuds. Carey looks at how it might have all come back on the hoaxer. What happens if you create a monster? The story of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is very much on PC's mind here, and he doesn't mind signposting that. I saw a few parallels with Coleridge's ...more
Gue udah sampe entah pada halaman berapa. Gue memutuskan untuk ngga ngelanjutin baca. Kenapa? karena CAPEK.

Dari halaman ketiga, gue sadar bahwa buku ini ditulis tanpa bentuk kalimat aktif. Maksudnya, tanpa tanda koma dan tanda petik pada setiap ucapan para tokoh di buku ini.

Dan gue jadi capek. Karena gue jadi susah membedakan mana yang ucapan, mana yang kalimat cerita. Semuanya terasa lempeng dot kom.

Tapi gue paksain baca. Sampe pada cerita mengenai masa lalu si Sarah. Itu menurut gue menarik. K
Adrian Stumpp
Ern Mallory, apparently, was a famous Australian literary hoaxer circa 1940. The hoax consisted of a handful of faux-T.S. Eliot highbrow modernist poems written by a pair of anti-modernist poets as a sort of a joke. The poems were intended to be cliche parodies illustrating all the worst, most self-indulgent, hyperbolic aspects of modernist poetry. The fictitious poet, Mallory, was conscientiously packaged as a Marxist class hero--a well-read, erudite, self-educated working man (bicycle repairma ...more
I've read a couple of novels by Peter Carey now, and after reading this, I've promised myself that I'm going to read everything that he's ever written. Reading this makes me think that if you've not read anything by Peter Carey, there's an undiscovered goldmine out there for you.

A literary magazine editor gets dragged to Kuala Lumpur, where she hears the story of an Australian poet who invented a writer, and associated body of work, in order to hoax a rival. The fraudulent poems are published, a
Maya Lang
The strangest, craziest part of this book is that it is inspired by true events. (Two guys on a military base in Australia invent a poet, who is deemed the next literary genius, before the whole hoax comes out.) Peter Carey injects a Frankenstein note: what if the made-up character were to then come to life by someone claiming to be the poet? I loved the premise, but the romp through Malaysia (jungles! machetes! natives!) seemed a little unnecessary, and the plot got confusing. Part of me wonder ...more
I read this a casualty, I didn't knew about the author but this book have one of the most involving narrative I ever read. Definitely a master piece and I hope it gets considered as a classic in the future, it deserves it.
What a strange, fantastic book. The characters are rich and interesting. Particularly adorable is the narrator, Sarah. She is so incredibly unlikeable, snobbish and boring yet somehow also sympathetic and terribly human. Carey had me laughing out loud at her awkward contradictions The story itself has such a strange setup and takes the reader to some very unexpected places, all for the love of poetry, and more specifically, Sarah's ambition to associate herself with the poetry of genius. I'll av ...more
Mike Lindgren
Australian talespinner Carey wins points with this affecting and ingenious potboiler about a literary feud gone sour, set in a sinister southeast Asian backwater. These days, of course, it's hard to believe that a hoax concerning poets and their publication in literary journals would merit anything more than a yawn, let alone a career-ending, suicide-inducing succès de scandale; yet such is the bygone literary world that Carey invokes, with a combination of pathos and glamour. The narrative drag ...more
Marsha Hudgens
This is based on a true story about a literary hoax that made fools of some prominent literary snobs. I suspect this book is a bit of a literary hoax itself, intended to poke fun at literary snobs in general. If you read it with that understanding, it is hilarious. Dropped names are more plentiful than cow piles on a Tennessee farm and the plot gets so thick you could stand a utility pole in it. I enjoyed Carey's style. As crazy as it got, it was never boring. However, if you expect resolution, ...more
Frances Bell
BORING!!! Does winning a Booker prize mean you can then write as much rubbish as you like and still get it on the bestseller list? Is sprinkling your story (and I use the term loosely) with poetry and references to the lives of poets all you have to do to be "literary"? If that's the case, that means I should be able to weave nursery rhymes into a bad narrative and have it hailed as great literature..... I don't think I'll waste any more of my precious time reading his books.
Bunga Mawar
Well, kalau Anda jadi tertarik membaca buku ini karena kata2 di sampul belakangnya menyebut setting cerita ini di antaranya di Indonesia, bolehlah sebal. Indonesia cuma jadi tempelan tempat dengan menyebut beberapa kota di Jawa dan Sumatera. Untuk kejadiannya pun tak makan tempat sampai tiga halaman. Ternyata Malaysia abis-lah. Tapi, saya curiga. Singapura kali ya, dengan Singlish-nya yang terkenal itu?

*sepotong curhat*
Gabriel Boutros
This is one of those books that can leave a reader quite dissatisfied, or thoroughly captivated, depending on what one was expecting. I landed somewhere in between the two extremes. The story is told by a Sarah Wode-Douglass, editor of a London poetry magazine in the 1970s. While in Kuala Lumpur (vividly depicted, reminding me of the best of Joseph Conrad) she meets Christopher Chubb, a second-rate poet who is famed for having perpetrated a literary hoax that drove Weiss, another magazine editor ...more
Stephanie Sun
Unfortunately, Bob McCorkle isn't the only fake thing in this book.

Disturbingly false is Carey's portrayal of artistic genius as supernatural zombie magic, instead of the 90% perspiration that it is.

And that even isn't as hollow as the notion that an old Chinese lady in a motorcycle shop in K.L. named Mrs. Lim must be a feral machete psychokiller.

Carey's plot is so convoluted that this isn't a spoiler.
Peter Carey based My Life as a Fake on a real incident in Australia where a writer perpetrated a hoax by publishing the poems of an individual he claimed was dead, but never really existed. While the actual incident would be interesting enough, Carey takes this further by have the supposedly imagined poet show up in the life of the individual who created the hoax.

The story is told by Sarah - the editor of a London Lit journal who has followed another writer, Slater to Malaysia. Slater, knew Sara
I love Peter Carey. If every artist is indeed a thief, Carey is a literary larcenist. I've read three of his novels this year and all were fantastic and all seemed to be written by an inspired ventriloquist who juggles voice to voice, scene to scene, on a tightrope of his own fancy.
So, about 1/3 of the way through this, I knew for sure that I had already read this, but couldn't remember where it was going. It was definitely interesting, although I couldn't really say that I liked it as I read. When it ended (very abruptly) I realized why I didn't remember it. meh.
Fiction. A book I will puzzle about for a while. I think I know what happened, or do I? A slow start to this read, and high-brow reading since it's about a poet's literary magazine and editor, with many references to such, but I'm glad I stuck with it. The story is quite amazing. I am a Peter Carey fan. He is so intelligent and his words do that compliment justice:

"Those two vertical frown marks above Slater's nose were the acid which had always stopped his good looks from being too saccharine.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Peter Carey was born in Australia in 1943.

He was educated at the local state school until the age of eleven and then became a boarder at Geelong Grammar School. He was a student there between 1954 and 1960 — after Rupert Murdoch had graduated and before Prince Charles arriv
More about Peter Carey...
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“... a country where we seldom understand that we must be prepared to fight for issues bigger than an umpire's decision at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.” 3 likes
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