You've probably heard about James Frey's "memoir" A Million Little Pieces and how The Smoking Gun has exposed it as a bunch of fabrications and embellishments! Now even Oprah herself has had to get involved (on Larry King, no less) defending the reputation of Frey and his book. Frey himself has admitted to embellishments but says "the emotional truth still resonates" or something like that. Whatever. People liked the book when they thought it was true, but now they suddenly don't given that some of it was made up? Is truth stranger than fiction, or, in this case, is fiction more entertaining than truth? It's not a history text, after all, it's the man's "memoirs". Personally, I think he could have saved himself all this hassle by calling it "autobiographical fiction" rather than a "memoir" or that term that I kind of deplore, "creative non-fiction". And at any rate, did The Smoking Gun need to do a six week investigation into the details of a book about which any dope-fiend or frequent-flyer would like say in parts, Give me a break?
In the meantime, there is increased scrutiny as to J.T. Leroy's identity and whether "he" exists or not. As Gawker points out, however, The Village Voice has been on this case for years. So who is J.T. Leroy? Does it matter that the it-boy with a celebrity support network doesn't really exist, that in this case the "autobiographical fiction" might not be "autobiographical" at all?
All of this slipperiness has led some early supporters to wonder if they've been played. As [Mary] Gaitskill put it, "It's occurred to me that the whole thing with Jeremy [J.T.] is a hoax, but I felt that even if it turned out to be a hoax, it's a very enjoyable one. And a hoax that exposes things about people, the confusion between love and art and publicity. A hoax that would be delightful and if people are made fools of, it would be OK—in fact, it would be useful."
I liked that quote, and I agree, though I think his fanbase would likely be hurt by his non-existence. Anyway, here is J.T. Leroy's website. Note the picture on the main page.
A commenter on Dennis Cooper's blog entry where he talks about the J.T. Leroy scam says,
Do you think Laura's books would have made it to press had they not come with her elaborate story? And, would you have read her stuff and given it the same attention had she been Laura Albert instead of JT LeRoy? Yeah, that's a mean question, but I only ask it because I STILL don't know if I would have read his books had I known the truth. It makes me worry about the my own perceptions, like I can't see things for what they are.