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My Life as a Fake by Peter Carey

My Life as a Fake (2003)

by Peter Carey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,361359,470 (3.34)44
Chistopher Chubb, an arrogant poet in 1950's Australia, creates a fictitious poet. Only the phantom poet comes to life to taunt, haunt and otherwise destroy his maker, pursuing Chubb from Melbourne to a seedy, sweaty, bitter ending in the tropical chaos of Kuala Lumpur. The Creature steals Chubb's life, eclipsing him as a poet and a man.… (more)
  1. 20
    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Deception is layered on deception until even the truth looks false.
  2. 00
    Slow Man by J. M. Coetzee (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: In reading these two novels, you are never quite sure where the book's defined reality leaves off and the main character's imagination begins.
  3. 00
    Illywhacker by Peter Carey (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Fine work from an author under appreciated in the US.

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» See also 44 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I read this book to satisfy the FB challenge category "book from the bottom of my to read list" - it's been on my shelves for over 5 years.

The premise is a man writes some fake poetry and submits it to a publisher friend hoping to "take him down a notch" when it was discovered the poems were by a fake poet. The hoax takes on a life of it's own, the publisher is prosecuted, the perpetrator shamed and his life set down a destructive path. The story is told in flashbacks of the tricksters life.

I didn't like any of the characters; I was never made to care about the hoax or why it had such devastating effects; and I particularly didn't like that the whole book is written without quotation marks. I hate that style. What the hell does it accomplish except to make the conversations difficult to follow....or even to tell if there is a conversation. I found in continually irritating.

Overall, certainly readable, lots of poetry references, but I wouldn't particularly recommend it. ( )
  Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
Accompanying the arrogant poet, John Slater, to Malaysia, London editor Sarah Wode-Douglass finds herself obsessively drawn to a mysterious manuscript that bears a legacy of fraud and danger.
  JRCornell | Dec 8, 2018 |
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 drags a little in the second half, but remains on the whole highly entertaining. ( )
  MikeLindgren51 | Aug 7, 2018 |
A book about literary hoaxes which manages to be pretty gosh-darned boring. I expected more and was disappointed. ( )
  JBD1 | Feb 27, 2018 |
London literary magazine editor Sarah agrees to accompany an old family friend, author John Slater, on a trip to Malaysia, where she quite accidentally meets Christopher Chubb - an Australian poet living in shamed exile after a scandal in which he created a hoax poet whose works were published in a high-profile publication. While the trick doesn't seem like that much of an issue in and of itself, the poems were later the subject of court case in which the editor was tried for obscenity and ultimately died in questionable circumstances. But stranger yet is the arrival on the trial scene of a man who claims to be the hoax poet - fitting every description of the imaginary personage. Chubb insists that Sarah must hear the full story and so unfolds a tale that spans years and countries, involving all kinds of turmoil, including kidnappings and murder.

This book was inspired in part by the real-life story of Ern Malley, a literary hoax whose creation resulted in a court case. But Carey then diverges from the story by introducing elements of magical realism, most notably the character of Bob McCorkle, the apparently turned-to-real-life fruition of Chubb's creative joke. The storytelling is deceptively simple, appearing to be simply the earnest narration of Sarah but then turning into stories within stories as she hears from Chubb and then learns alternate perspectives from Slater, Chubb's daughter Tina, and Tina's caregiver Mrs. Linn, with the plot unfolding layer after layer. In this way, Carey plays not only with literary conventions but also with themes related to the nature of reality, the reliability of memory, and the elements that go into perception. Some things are deliberately (and I think well so) left vague, so that the reader must decide for him or herself exactly what has transpired and which story to believe - or which parts from each story are to be believed.

The version I had was an audiobook narrated by Susan Lyons, who did an excellent job of conveying a number of emotions and stories passionately while also doing a fantastic job of speaking with the many accents required by the cast of characters presented. I highly recommend this book for a relatively short read that will leave you with plenty of food for thought on a variety of topics. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Oct 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Careyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lyons, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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