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    Friday, January 20, 2006

    J.T. LeRoy's Life Hustle

    The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, parts of which were shot two years ago in Knoxville, was the first of a number of movies to fall from the writings of J.T. LeRoy, an erstwhile street hustler turned literary provocateur. It came out to mixed reviews, and I never saw it. I do know a number of people who have read the works though and they generally praise them. I haven't read any of the work, so I have no opinion about it as fiction. The problem is that J.T. LeRoy may not actually exist. From reading the New York Magazine article, I'm fully convinced he does not. Either way it is an interesting look at writing, marketing, deceit, art, and the inevitable gullibility of people when a sad story is on the line. Anyone ever hear of a A Million Little Pieces? While there has been a long tradition of literary hoax, one has to wonder what these do to the actual reputation of the memoir as literary form. Luckily J.T. LeRoy writes "fiction" and evidently lives it as well. I think this is a job for Charlie Kaufman. The movie needs to be about all of J.T. LeRoy and everything it implies and I think Mr. Kaufman is the only one who can do it. Spike Jonze, if you're out there, we could use your help as well.

    William Gibson's thoughts on the subject:
    I guess this is the literary equivalent of phantom limb syndrome, but now that I'm pretty much convinced that J.T. Leroy never existed, I catch myself regretting never having met him. I think that might mean that he was America's first idoru, in the fullest Japanese sense, paradoxically manifesting mainly on our oldest mass-media platform, the printed word.

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