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ok, so — one of my favorite writers does not even exist…

I know I can be a bit naive and I did think always think that JT LeRoy’s public persona was odd. But, I just tossed it off to artistic eccentricity or publicity stunts. Imagine my surprise this morning when I read the following on San Francisco Gate.com!

“…today, the New York Times blew the whole thing wide open. In a piece titled The Unmasking of JT Leroy: In Public, He’s a She, the newspaper revealed that celebrated author, who claimed to be a truck-stop hooker with AIDS, was merely the creation of San Francisco couple Laura Albert and Geoffrey Knoop (of the band Thistle) and that it is actually Knoop’s half-sister Savannah who has been making all his public appearances for the past five years in the ubiquitous blonde wig and dark sunglasses.”

And, then it was right there on the cover of The Chronicle! He never existed!

Personally, I don’t really care. I love the writing and “Harold’s End” remains one of my favorite books.

I am sure there are a number of people who assisted and helped “JT LeRoy” who feel pretty pissed off. I don’t blame them. And, I do think it unforgivable that someone would use such a dire disease as AIDS to make it in the entertainment industry. But some people will do horrible things to become rich and famous.

I wonder — Did Asia know?!?!?

I’m still eagerly awaiting the release of the DVD of her film of his novel. Kind of ironic that the novel and film are named THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS.

The first thing that crossed my mind as I read the news was, “Wouldn’t Andy Warhol just love all of this?!?!?” The second thing that tripped thru my head was, “Oh, man! Was Lewis Carroll real?” Then, I thought — “Am I real?”

…then I decided to close my eyes and focus on the musings of my magic iPod before my brain imploded!

“Kissing” by Bliss
“Dazzle (Glam Mix) by Siouxsie & The Banshees
“Inner City Spillover” by Debbie Harry
“Neighborhood #1” by The Arcade Fire
“Set It Off” by Peaches
“Running Up That Hill” by Placebo
“Bron-Yr-Aur” by Led Zep


I cleared out my desk today. Technically, this was my final day with my firm. A member of my staff made this for me as a gift. It is ever so tiny and very cute. I thought that was so sweet of her. It made me feel good.

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January 10, 2006. Uncategorized.

7 Comments

  1. ing replied:

    I was compiling a post about the same thing, but I’m way too slow!

    On one hand, I agree that if the writing is great, who cares about the identity of the author. Once the words get onto the page, they become something brand-new having everything to do with the reader and not much to do with the author at all. Or at least, that’s what I like to think.

    On the other hand, if Ms. Koop knowingly used the issues she used — and that’s some pretty tough stuff — while writing in the guise of a young and troubled boy with the full intention of getting famous by doing so, well, that seems unethical. What I wonder, though, is this: would her book have been picked up by the publisher and marketed so aggressively had she simply said, “I’m this somewhat dumpish and middle-aged woman writing in the guise of a fictional character called JT Leroy who is (etc) . . . ?”

    I think what really bugs those who are bugged is the deception, plain and simple. Readers might enjoy the trick if they can somehow identify with the trickster, so those who consider this a prank against “the literary establishment” and who feel in some way neglected or snubbed by said establishment will rejoice because in a way, they’re in on the prank. Those who bought in to the story, who lauded Leroy for his bravery in confessing these “true” stories, who identified with him somehow, who perhaps even overlooked teensy flaws in the writing (say) because they believed in the character may feel cheated.

    This is all so speculative on my part. I haven’t really decided how I feel, but it’s awfully awfully interesting.

  2. matt replied:

    Well stated!

    You know I knew nothing of JT LeRoy when I read the first two books. The stories sounded interesting. It wasn’t till I read HAROLD’S END that I started seeking information on the writer — and then when Argento made the film I started reading/seeing more of “him” in the press/media.

    So, it really doesn’t upset me. It is actually rather interesting. But, I am repulsed by some of the ways she was getting sympathy for assistance from publishers, editors and celebs. That is wrong. No matter how hard it is to get published in this day and age, that is just not cool.

  3. digitic replied:

    Though I haven’t read any of TJ LeRoy’s works I wonder if the controversy over the author is really a “scoop” or if it’s just a contrived marketing ploy. Kind of like Sony’s PSP guerilla graffitti marketing attempt or otheral viral marketing tacics (Ohhh! Did you see that commercial? It’s soo gross! Send it to all your friends!!!).

    I question if a good writer’s truth is really detrimental to the quality of his/her work.

    Take for instance Memoir’s of a Geisha which is one of my favorite stories (stop laughing at me). The fact that this story of a geisha was written by Arthur Golden — some middle-aged Jewish guy — and written in the first person vernacular doesn’t keep me from enjoying the journey the story takes me through.

    Lying to the public most certainly affects the public’s perception of the author but I suspect doesn’t diminish the work at all. I also suspect that more often than not the author emerges unscathed if not even more popular.

    As like in the tabloids, no news is bad news.

  4. Tim replied:

    I think if I had read the books knowing that about Leroy’s supposed history, I would be pissed off right now. As it is, I haven’t read any of them. But this has made me kind of curious to read them, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a well-time publicity stunt of some sort …. what’s the betting that there’s a new book coming out or something?!

  5. matt replied:

    Milford — I agree. None of it invalidates the writing.

    Tim — And, yeah —- as Milford is also pointing, I believe a new book is set for release later this year.

    The only problem I have at all is lying about so many things that are so horrific for people — for self-promotion. Tho, we know it is done all of the time.

  6. ginab replied:

    Goodness, I would have known in a glance. Seriously. Except, wasn’t he, er, she interviewed on NPR? I believe so. Was Terry Gross, like, duped?

  7. matt replied:

    ginab — LOL! I know it seems like you would. But it is amazing what we accept when presented to us. I got into learning about “JT LeROY” after I read the 3 books — and I thought the look was so strange and all the mystery silly but I believed it was for real — I mean “he” spoke or wrote about the need to become a woman and how “he” had always been able to pass, etc. I think lots of folks were fooled. My fave is having read Marianne Faithful talk about how close she had become to JT. LOL! Poor Marianne.

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