"the literary fake—a piece of fiction that pretends in some way to be true. Is it fact or fiction? Is it good fun or something more disturbing? By operating under the auspices of traditionally nonfictional modes to tell its story, the literary fake chooses to bring the reader to suspension of disbelief through means that include extreme guile—and, in cases where the reader recognizes the trick, continues to amuse, entertain, and say something interesting about the human condition regardless. As such, it destabilizes our view of reality, which can be uncomfortable, sometimes unforgivable, especially if we think someone is laughing at us. We don’t always appreciate things that look like other things, even if there’s a purpose to the mimicry; perhaps this is a vestige of an ancient evolutionary trait that allowed us to discern between the harmless and the harmful.
Nor do some readers, apparently, like to think they are being made to believe something false against their will. Fakes are especially divisive at two essential moments in time: when they slip past the reader’s defenses and when the reader discovers the deception. Whether this latter point occurs soon after picking up the book or halfway through it, a literary fake eventually forces the reader to decide whether to be sympathetic or hostile toward the fakery."
But writers may be onto something when they fake it:
"Fakes [...] can be a form of guerilla warfare against the establishment, acting out against the artificiality and sheer bureaucratic impulse that animates much of modern book culture. Naturally, then, a fake can “disturb the guardians of literary studies, book-reviewing, and the literary awards system."
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