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My Life As A Fake
Peter Carey
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My Life As A Fake

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,790 Ratings  ·  283 Reviews
In 1972, Sarah Wode-Douglass--the editor of a London literary magazine--has no particular curiosity about Malaysia, though her interest in John Slater has always been keen. A famous poet, Slater figured prominently in the disaster that was her parents' marriage. Many years after he mother's suicide, Sarah wonders still what Slater knows that she does not; so when he propos ...more
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published 2003 by Faber
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Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 21-ce, australia
An exceptional novel from Peter Carey. It may even be better than the brilliant True History of the Kelly Gang. I can not recommend it too highly. A dazzler.
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you live your own life? Or do you try to imitate the others?
And if you’re trying to imitate a fictional personage will you become one? Will you end up as an ultimate hoax?
Peter Carey is once again full of originality. And ‘hoax’ is a keyword of My Life as a Fake
“He is right, he said quietly. The hoax misfired. I wished to make a point, but only to a few. Who cares about poetry? Fifty people in Australia? Ten with minds you might respect. Once Weiss had declared my fake was a work of genius,
Sep 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Konserve Ruhlar
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Şiirin peşinde güzel bir hikayesi, Malezya sokaklarında ilginç bir gezinti ile enterasan bir kurgusu olan bir roman. Yazar 1943 de Avustralya'da yaşanan Ern Malley hilesini kullanarak tasarlamış romanını.
Yer yer tempo fena düşüyor , yan karakterlerin hikayesine çok yer veriyor ve sanırım bütününü biraz bozuyor. Yine de Malezya sokaklarının kokusunu dahi hissedebileceğimiz kadar iyi yazmış detayları. Epey üzerinde çalışılmış bir roman. Tanımadığım ve hiç okumadığım şairler ve şiirleri ilgi uyand
Apr 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dillwynia Peter
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Carey uses the infamous Ern Malley Hoax of the 1940s as the core of his novel and investigates, imaginatively, what happens with the hoax and to the people who become embroiled with it.
I’ve thought about hoaxes in the Arts & I don’t think I know of any incident where the originator(s) end up becoming celebrated artists. The closest I can think of is Kreistler’s fake Baroque pieces, which are rarely played and almost never in the concert hall. It shook, but didn’t ruin his reputation. Painte
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
Dec 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 29, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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).
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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.
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
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-possession
Πολύ έξυπνη η αρχική ιδέα, με πολλές προεκτάσεις. Θα μου άρεσε περισσότερο αν ήταν λιγότερο φλύαρο και αν η μετάφραση δεν ήταν τόσο μα τόσο κακή (είχε και επιμελήτρια, τρομάρα τους).
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
Stef Rozitis
Carey writes beautifully. His settings drip with realism and his characters are completely believable. Unfortunately in this case his characters were three elitist white bores having their emotional dramas in Kuala Lumpur. There are a series of exoticised Asian stereotypes, a cursory mention now and then that colonialism might not be such a great thing for everyone but mostly the three very unlikeable characters live out their dramas in a way that exploits rather than explores the setting.

I comp
Nick Sweeney
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
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
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
José Vivas M.
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
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
Dec 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mike Lindgren
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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*
Stephanie Sun
Apr 22, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dead-tree
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.
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.
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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
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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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