Lightreads's Reviews > Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art

Provenance by Laney Salisbury
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's review
Oct 22, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: disability, nonfiction, crime
Read in October, 2011

Oh yeah, the White Collar writers totally read this and went “yeah, let’s do that! Only sexier and without the mental illness.”

It’s a compelling story of con artistry and, glancingly, of the art world where “real” doesn’t mean nearly as much as everyone says it does. But mostly I was too distracted by the style. This is what happens when a particular breed of reporters write nonfiction, every single time, I swear. They are so focused on hiding the ball, on digesting all of their research into appropriately textured lumps for mass consumption, that they end up producing something that reads more like a novel. I don’t know where they got a single bit of this information. Not specifically, I mean – I have a vague idea who they interviewed and what they read, but they really don’t want me to know where they got what, or how reliable any given piece of information was, or really that any interviewing or information-gathering happened at all. They want me to swallow this down whole with no analysis from me, thank you very much.

I might appreciate that on a Monday morning in the WSJ, but I really don’t in my nonfiction books.
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