A heroin-addicted teen prostitute from West Virginia, 15-year-old JT LeRoy was hailed as the next great American literary star in the late 1990s. Mentored by acclaimed writers and nurtured by a protective throng of celebrities, JT's story was as inspirational as his untaught genius was astonishing. But JT wasn't real; he was an invention of Laura Albert, a woman in her 30's who wrote the books, carried on phone conversations in JT's voice and hired her boyfriend's half-sister to appear in public as JT. After filming JT in the peak of his fame, documentarian Marjorie Sturm continued unraveling the story after Albert's hoax was revealed in 2005. Her film, The Cult of JT LeRoy, is now playing in theaters but Albert, who calls JT's persona performance art, has threatened to sue. [more inside]
Will the real JT Leroy please stand up? (ny times link) The public face of JT Leroy is confirmed as Savannah Knoop, the half-sister of the man who claimed to be JT Leroy's caretaker. The authenticity of JT Leroy was previously discussed on Metafilter here, in which a New York magazine article portrayed Ms. Albert, 40, and Mr. Knoop, 39, as unfulfilled rock musicians who concocted the character of JT Leroy to gain access first to literary circles and, later, to celebrities. Have JT Leroy fans now officially been punk'd?
Who is the Real JT LeRoy? A search for the true identity of a great literary hustler.
Envy of the Literary World, or another Trust-Fund Novelist? Following up on the discussion of J.T. LeRoy a few weeks ago, here's a story from the Observer about Nick McDonell, who's 18, just out of high school and about to publish a major novel (you may have read about him in the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" section). The catch is, his dad edits SI, his publisher is his godfather, and Hunter S. Thompson, who plugs the book, is a family friend. The book's not out yet, so the quality question is moot at this point. But still ... what gives with all this ridiculously young writers these days?
J.T. LeRoy: The Next Lit-Crit It Boy? A report from the trendy and bespectacled world of hipster-lit book-readings and its newest star, the mercurial J.T. LeRoy. From the article: "LeRoy is the mirror image of the New York hipster’s aspiration: the lost soul done good, when so many in the audience, in pricey vintage t-shirts, seemed to want nothing more than to shed the trappings of middle-class life. More than a few in the audience spoke of him with a sort of rapt awe usually accorded NBA stars and minor deities." For more info on LeRoy, check out the author's official website.