This seems to be a different edition of [b:Telling Tales: A History Of Literary Hoaxes|6763621|Telling Tales A History Of Literary Hoaxes|Melissa Katsoulis|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347420450s/6763621.jpg|6961460], from a different publisher.
I'm not exactly sure why I'm so fascinated by literary hoaxes. Well, hoaxes of all stripes, really. Obviously, I'm not the only one. Look at how many there are on Wikipedia
! So this was a must-read book for me. Fortunately for Katsoulis, her subject matter is going to keep me riveted no matter what, because the writing honestly wasn't that great. That said, I'd still recommend this book, because it's just so interesting. Sure, you could probably get much of the same information off of Wikipedia, but there's actually more detail in most of the entries in the book than in the corresponding Wikipedia articles.
Each entry is roughly ten pages long, some longer and some shorter, and give a fairly complete idea of the work in question, how and why it was written, and how the hoax came to light. Not every literary hoax in the world is included, by far, and most of the ones that Katsoulis chose are particularly interesting examples. The most fun hoax was definitely I, Libertine
, a collective prank by the host and listeners of a radio show that eventually became reality. And the prize for sheer chutzpah goes to Clifford Irving
, who claimed to have helped Howard Hughes write his autobiography while Hughes was still alive.
This was just so much fun for me to read. There's a wide range of motives and reactions on display, from Irving's sheer greed to pranks to motives that are harder to explain and understand. A few of the stories might not be, strictly speaking, hoaxes. I'm not sure if Mark Twain intended for anyone to buy those absurd news stories, and Fern Gravel is a fairly straightforward example of an author using a pen name to for writing outside his normal work. Those, and a few others like them, probably don't belong in the book. But I can't protest too much, because I really enjoyed reading them.