Conclusion: ‘passing’ fads?: recent controversies of authenticity and authorship

Sinéad Moynihan

in Passing into the Present

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780719082290
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702727 | DOI:
Conclusion: ‘passing’ fads?: recent controversies of authenticity and authorship

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In his satirical response to the controversies involving J. T. LeRoy and James Frey, Tim Carvell makes explicit the connections between the acts of passing and writing. This is due in no small part to the fact that the visual economies of race and gender are transliterated onto the book jacket he describes in the form of an author photograph. This chapter examines three recent controversies of authorship in which the connection between the contemporary fascination with the theme of passing and authorial concealment, subterfuge and deception becomes glaringly evident. The first is the exposure of LeRoy as a ‘fake’; the second, the ‘embellishments’ Frey added to his memoir of drug and alcohol addiction, A Million Little Pieces (2005); and the third, the passing of a middle-class white woman, Margaret Seltzer, as Margaret B. Jones, a working-class ‘mixedblood’, in authoring a ghetto memoir entitled Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival (2008). In producing embellished or ‘fake’ memoirs, itself a form of (auto)biography, the authors in question also engage in acts of racial and gender passing.

Keywords: passing; authorial concealment; subterfuge; deception; authorship; J. T. LeRoy; James Frey; fake memoirs; Margaret Seltzer; Million Little Pieces

Chapter.  6015 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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