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Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  111 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Contemporary short stories enacting giddy, witty revenge on the documents that define and dominate our lives.

In our bureaucratized culture, we're inundated by documents: itineraries, instruction manuals, permit forms, primers, letters of complaint, end-of-year reports, accidentally forwarded email, traffic updates, ad infinitum. David Shields and Matthew Vollmer, both writ
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 15th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company
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(showing 1-30 of 506)
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Nov 05, 2012 Lee rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended to anyone who teaches creative writing to undergrads or feels like they're in a rut with their own stuff. So many ideas in here, so many examples of fictional forms other than the conventional story. Cleverness abounds throughout of course but when these work well it's clear that unconventional form restriction inspired the writer in a way that might also excite a reader. Classics in here I've read elsewhere include pieces by Lorrie Moore, Donald Barthleme, George Saunders, St ...more
Jul 17, 2014 Kaethe marked it as abandoned
Grrr. This is the only book I brought with me today, for when I finished Red Scarf Girl. Something light and amusing, I thought, for after the downer.

Well, it is light, in the sense that it is printed on really cheap paper, and thus, despite being a thick trade edition, it doesn't weigh much. And then after an introduction that explains how to make fakes (but not why to anthologize them), the very first entry is "Disclaimer" about an abused and murdered woman, which should not be confused with a
M. Sarki
Aug 23, 2013 M. Sarki rated it it was ok
I own the hardcover first printing of Stanley Crawford's Some Instructions to My Wife and liked the book very much, so in full disclosure about the Stanley Crawford piece that was included in this book Fakes here, I say that I couldn't read it for the font. The font hurt my eyes, this typeface they chose. But I had already read the Crawford piece in a hardcover book years ago and wasn't going to read the text fully again anyway, but I did want to scan the bit and found I couldn't even try to rea ...more
John Pappas
Jun 01, 2013 John Pappas rated it liked it
This anthology is powered by a fantastic concept that doesn't always work well in the individual stories it features. These stories, written in decidedly non-literary forms (an exhibition catalog, a letter to the parking bureau, an index to a lost biography, a police blotter, a catalog of font types, etc.), are prefaced by a dynamic introductory essay that posits the exploration of the limits and conventions of these forms as a way of investigating what language makes us think (or not think) and ...more
I rated this book 3.75/5 stars on A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Review excerpt:

"This anthology caught my eye because of a review I read in the LARB(and by "read," I mostly mean skimmed). The concept of the book revolves around the "fraudulent artifacts" in the title; it reminds me of a cross among blogs like Letters of Note, which contains realartifacts giving us fascinating peeks at people and situations via correspondence, pieces from McSweeney's Internet
Steev Hise
Jul 19, 2013 Steev Hise rated it really liked it
Shelves: fun, own-it, art
Like with many anthologies that are collected around a specific formal practice in writing, this book varies in quality. Some selections are really top-notch, but others are almost worthy of skipping. The idea behind them all is creative writing that is in the format of some non-creative text: for-sale listings, book indexes, wills, police logs, etc. Where these work the best is, I believe, not dependent on the the form the writer chose to cleverly lampoon, but on the actual content. When the st ...more
Ben Brackett
Nov 29, 2015 Ben Brackett rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this because of the imaginative range it had, yet still solidly tied together as a premise. The last couple of collections I've read (Pen Awards/O Henry being the worst offender) suffered from the curators putting style first over voice, so every story, even if written by female Chinese immigrant about her experiences or rich old white dude about his, sounded exactly the same, and was super boring.

That said, I was cautious going in about it being about experimenting with narrat
Nov 30, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing
From an interview I did, for the Tottenville Review, with Matthew Volmer:

Matthew Vollmer is the author of two short story collections: the critically lauded Future Missionaries of America, a beautifully crafted sampling of spiritual longing and religious legacies amidst the lives of contemporary Americans, and, still fresh from the presses, Inscriptions for Headstones, an ambitious, poetic, and really quite singular work. There’s nothing else like it in the world. Close on the heels of his lates
Matt Britton
Nov 03, 2014 Matt Britton rated it liked it
Great concept, passable execution. Some of these were highly enjoyable, either funny or sad, but a number of the pieces employed obscure, almost language-poetry style writing, or fell solidly in the writing-for-writers genre. Jonathan Safran Foer's piece, for example, is a subtle parody, but some pieces rely heavily on the tiring device of taking a familiar, often bureaucratic form, and stuffing it with nonsense and cries of guilt and loneliness from the speaker. Not good reads.
Nov 27, 2012 Lauren rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

I started off really intrigued by the format alone - it's an anthology of fake texts made up of a large variety of mediums, so it reads like a crime novel or something.

As for the writing, some of the stories were good and some meh. "Officer's Weep" was fantastic, as was "About the Typefaces Not Used in This Edition," which I would have read based on the name alone, in all honesty. If you're debating purchasing the book I might suggest looking
As with most short story collections, some of the stories were great, and others were less compelling than I hoped. I'm lazy and don't feel like reviewing the stories individually, so I'm just going to include a list of the ones I especially enjoyed. (I may return in the future and briefly comment on the stories or something, but I really don't like writing reviews all that much so ehhhhhhhhhhhhh probably not.)

"One Thousand Words on Why You Should Not Talk During a Fire Drill"
Cooper Harwood
Jan 09, 2016 Cooper Harwood rated it liked it
An incredibly mixed bag. Beyond that, a lot of the pieces don't really commit to their fake format... Which is fine when they stand on their own as short stories, but makes the weaker entries that much more unsatisfying. Still lots of good stuff, just requires some cherry picking.
May 23, 2016 Alisha rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Some of these were better than others, and they were not "light" reads because you had to pay attention to what was going on (def. not mindless reading), but they were often interesting and sometimes extremely clever.
Oct 01, 2015 Thekelburrows rated it really liked it
Quite a bit of ho-hum filler but some five-star stories from the big dogs: George Saunders, Amy Hempel, Lorrie Moore, Lydia Davis, and Jonathan Safran Foer.
Scotty Cameron
Jun 02, 2014 Scotty Cameron rated it really liked it
This seems to me a collection ahead of its time. With the growing popularity of so-called found texts, this anthology serves to both entertain and teach how to craft short stories in a non-traditional form. An interesting thought for instructors using this text: after students complete a reading from this anthology, ask them, is this a story? The question will encourage students to consider the working definition of what a story is. Consequently, students may feel more capable of playing around ...more
Ted Morgan
Feb 21, 2014 Ted Morgan rated it it was amazing
Clever and creative. Much fails for me but I think I just soemtimes miss the humour. What does work for me, works well.
Mark Harding
Nov 23, 2012 Mark Harding rated it really liked it
Just because a story has a fancy format doesn't make it good. Frankly, a lot of these stories were very slight. However, Laura Jayne Martin's William Carlos William's rip-off is a delight, Daniel Orozco's "Officer's Weep" brilliantly goes from comedy to sinister, there's the beautiful "Dead Sister Handbook" from Kevin Wilson and there's the Ballard classic "The Index" (much anthologised). The story that raises the collection however, is Jonathan Safran Foer's "About the Typefaces not used in thi ...more
Oct 23, 2012 Tara rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book in a first-reads giveaway.

This is an anthology of fake texts that take the form of letters, contracts, glossaries, police blotters, etc. Generally, you could call these texts short stories, with the authors playing around with various formats or mediums in which to tell the story. Most of the stories are funny and enjoyable; if you liked Reality Hunger: A Manifesto you'll probably like Fakes.
Emma Bolden
Nov 22, 2013 Emma Bolden rated it liked it
There were some exceptional pieces in this anthology; I particularly loved Wendy Brenner's story, and Kevin Wilson's, and the police blotter one. Most of them fell kind of flat, though I think this is an important anthology as it shows that analogue forms often become solely about the use of the form itself -- but, at the same time, I felt the more successful pieces were the ones that stuck most stridently and insistently to the form, using it as a way to create and contain meaning.
Andrew Kaufman
Mar 08, 2013 Andrew Kaufman rated it it was amazing
When I finished this collection I was sad. Not because there were no more amazing stories to be read. Not just because each one of these stories exhibited my own talents to be so grossly lacking. SImply because there's a good chance that never, not in the history of publishing nor the thirty or so years I have left to witness, see a collection so closely aimed to my personal tastes. Fantastic.
Jan 31, 2013 Zoey rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
Picked this book up because of the premise; I enjoy reading works where authors play with form. The best works were like the one by Jonathan Safran Foer- creative, unique, intriguing, fanciful. Too many of these stories were dark or bitterly ironic, though. While they would start out tongue-in-cheek and full of hope, they ended in postmodern dreariness, many tales ending in nearly the same way.
Erin Tuzuner
Jul 24, 2013 Erin Tuzuner rated it liked it
As with any collection, you have to sift for the nuggets. Except if it's published by Tin House. No sifting for Tin House. But this wasn't Tin House. There are a handful of decent writers represented and a thimbleful of brilliant pieces. The Wendy's Diary moved this up a star from ok to passable. The rest is just exercising the form and is mostly boring.
Feb 21, 2013 DoctorM rated it liked it
Shelves: art, essays, humor
Not a bad read. Don't think that. I enjoyed it, in a very low-key, something-to-do-on-a-weeknight way. And some of the essays are fun. The essay by J.G. Ballard is quite fun. But on the whole...nothing special. And the idea of a collection of "fraudulent artifacts" just isn't thought through. Good amusing essays, but no real concept behind it.
Oct 24, 2012 Alyssa rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
{Disclaimer: I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.}
Overall, the strangest book I've ever had the misfortune of reading. Maybe it's because of the formatting, but I found various pieces confusing, over-the-top, or just plain awful. There were a few that weren't so bad, but 5 out of 40 is not acceptable.
Jun 20, 2013 Steve rated it liked it
A bit uneven (like any anthology). Fantastic concept--in fact, the concept was probably more fascinating than most of the stories. Nonetheless, some gems here. Well worth the mental exercise.
John Hieb
Mar 19, 2014 John Hieb rated it really liked it
Caron A. Levis is a genius. Means, Saunders, Moore, Barthelme, need I say more? There are some misses in this collection, but, wow, there is some quirky brilliance, too.
Christian Lipski
Jan 28, 2013 Christian Lipski rated it really liked it
"Fake" versions of things that you find in real life, but each has a hint of a story, a life behind it (ie, it's not just a bunch of funny lists and stuff).
Apr 20, 2013 Greg rated it liked it
Many more good ones than bad ones. The trouble with the notion of an anthology is, of course, the element of surprise...
Dec 16, 2012 Nathan rated it liked it
Received as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher.
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David Shields is the author of fourteen books, including Reality Hunger (Knopf, 2010), which was named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications. GQ called it "the most provocative, brain-rewiring book of 2010"; the New York Times called it "a mind-bending manifesto." His previous book, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead (Knopf, 2008), was a New York Times bes ...more
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