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

2.64  ·  Rating details ·  84 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Why would two poets invent a fake writer, complete with a fake oeuvre and compelling life story, and then submit their fabrication to a literary magazine? Why might a biographer claim to have interviewed Howard Hughes and collaborated on the reclusive billionaire’s autobiography despite never having met him? Why would a journalist concoct an eight-year-old junkie and then ...more
245 pages
Published January 4th 2009 by The New Press
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Jun 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
This collection of essays about assorted fakers and con artists throughout history is a disappointing hodgepodge. The opening essay is a 50-page mess incoherent rant in which the author cops to some fakery in his own past. When employed as a writer for "Business Journal", he amused himself on the side by concocting fake letters to the journal under a variety of pseudonyms; several of these letters are included, most of them embarrassingly sophomoric. It's unclear what point he is trying to make ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. Too many of the essays felt cursory, and with the subtitle the book had there should have been more substance, or more different types of Fakers, instead it seemed to be more centered on the recent journalists and memoir writers who have hoodwinked their editors and the public. As an anecdotal book it's fine, but as really going into the subject it kind of left me wanting more than it could deliver.
Darrell Reimer
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
As my hackwork piled still higher I began to think of journalism not as a series of unique assignments or stories, but as a limited number of ideas and conventions, which each story had somehow to affirm.

Thus begins Paul Maliszewski’s short but colorful career as a hoaxer and satirist. As a young employee of the Business Journal of Central New York Maliszewski conned his own newspaper with letters to the editor from fictitious business “titans” who illustrated and inflated the Journal’s bias to
Janine Southard
Jan 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Summed up in a sentence fragment: Self-indulgent "look at me" pointlessness, peppered with interesting anecdotes too limited in scope.

Our author-protagonist starts off by telling us how clever he is. Before this book, he worked at a journal where he started making stuff up to show the futility of reporting and the medium. This "forward" goes on for 50 pages and includes a number of very badly written (in the purple prose and absurdist senses) letters to the editor from his alter egos. I wouldn't
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-crime
I am almost certain to love any book on the topic of (mostly) literary fakery, but not this time. Paul Maliszewski's opening essay, "I, Faker," tells of his pseudonymous, satirical letters that were published by the Business Journal of Central New York. This apparent attempt at establishing his street cred is so tediously self-indulgent that I barely managed to finish it, and the essays that follow are, with but one exception, a grab-bag of disappointment. Several of them, in fact, do not even q ...more
Jul 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
an interesting round-up of great hoaxes & cons--most of them based in literature one way or another. the book touches on JT leroy, james frey, & michael chabon's "golems" lecture more recently, & touches on other hoaxes of a more antique vintage. it was all really interesting, but i wanted MORE of everything. a whole chapter on JT leroy, a whole chapter on michael chabon, a whole chapter on the astronomer who supposedly found life on mars, etc. instead, the book was kind of a formles ...more
Aug 25, 2009 rated it did not like it
I have a collection of books about con artists and pretenders and this one is the least of them on all counts. The author was only looking for an excuse to write about himself. While working for a weekly business newspaper in upstate New York he wrote a series of letters to the editor under assumed names. I don't even know why I continued reading. The book is simply a collection of essays previously published in newsletters and on a web site. He covers the University of Massachusetts student who ...more
May 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
When I picked this up at the library, I thought it'd have more to do with con artists and counterfeiters. Instead it turned out to be a not very interesting account of journalists & authors who have lied about their work (whether articles or "memiors"). Maybe I would have enjoyed it a little if the title wasn't misleading and I was expecting what I got, but it's hard to say and, in the end, I put the book down about 100 pages into it.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
First off, this wasn't the book I was expecting. I wanted more about cons and others who present fake images of themselves, in person. This book tends more to literary frauds.
My second comment is that, despite the reviews to the contrary, there isn't all that much analysis. In some places he goes beyond asking very interesting questions, but not often, and three of the sections are simply transcribed, hardly introduced interview
Christopher Fox
An entertaining read, this book surveys a large number of fakes (see the subtitle) with a breezy style. Much of the last half though reads rather like a series of book reviews of other literary works about the hoaxes etc. where such books exist. Certainly though, Maliszewski's capsulized re-telling (he never gets into much detail) of the events and the people involved makes for a pleasant, quick read.
Jun 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Ex-faker explains his own fabrications, interviews other fakers, ruminates on the reasons for fakery, and tries to out Michael Chabon for presenting a fictional story as truth during a lecture. The whole thing seemed scattershot to me, though the cover design was good enough to attract me from across the room. Guess that's what I get for reading the book based on the cover.
Jan 12, 2009 rated it liked it
I found some of the essays fascinating (Michael Chabon, a faker? Are there no sacred cows left?), but for the most part I wasn't drawn into the stories. Nor, I feel, was much effort made to draw me in. Many of the hoaxes discussed took place in the 19th century, which has not nearly the impact of, say, a JT Leroy.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
Incredibly self-indulgent. It reads more like an autobiography, so I'm disappointed I thought this would be educational in any way. Even as an autobiography, I don't really like it... it's neither reflective or imparting of wisdom/empathy like I feel an autobiography should be, neither is it educational like I feel a non-fiction book should be. Disappointing.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
I came close to abandoning this one a few times. It was ok, but nothing super interesting - and I didn't know that it was all about journalists that fake their stories and that it's not a recent phenomenon - ok but not what I was looking for.
Niki Ganong
aka: Lies and the lying liars who tell them. It's a light (though sometimes long-winded) treatise on fiction under the guise of non. Fakers it celebrates include JT Leroy, James Frey and Stephen Glass. Interesting subject, but I find myself flipping through the diatribes.
May 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
I had to skip around after the first 150 pages. The topic is a good one--ways writers dupe us, or rather, the ways we foolishly allow ourselves to be duped by others. It fit right in with a lesson I was teaching my AP students, but even they would have to muddle through this one.
Mar 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
What a rambling, disorganized, overly personal mess. The author belabors some facts, skips others entirely, and sounds kind of like that drunk guy that always corners you at a party to prattle on about their pet subject.

This is an embarrassingly bad take on a the topic.
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Quick read, extensive if not comprehensive. Excellent introduction to faking.
Sincerely, someone else.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cultural-studies
Lousy research. Lousy reporting.
Nick Harris
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: belief-thinking
Started well, sharp and amusing. The quickly slipped into boredom and confusion.
Feb 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
Some essays were interesting, but there were too many that did not hold my interest.
Dec 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
I couldn't get into this. It just wasn't up my alley.
Astrid Amelia
rated it it was ok
Nov 28, 2012
rated it liked it
Aug 02, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Feb 26, 2009
rated it liked it
Feb 22, 2012
rated it really liked it
Jan 24, 2009
rated it it was amazing
Jan 24, 2009
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