The Barnes & Noble Review
From the two-time winner of the New Zealand Booker Prize (Oscar and Lucinda, True History of the Kelly Gang) comes an enthralling tale based on a nearly unknown incident in Australia's past that uses gothic trappings to highlight the battle between artistic passion and personal integrity.
When London poetry editor Sarah Wode-Douglass accompanies a rebel writer to Malaysia, she meets the notorious Christopher Chubb, a now-homeless bicycle repairman who concocted a literary hoax in the 1940s that destroyed several lives. Using the pseudonym of "Bob McCorkle," Chubb forced a young female editor to face an obscenity trial that eventually got out of hand and led to her suicide. As if this were not enough, a seven-foot giant claiming to be the real Bob McCorkle appeared out of nowhere and, acting out of revenge against his "creator," kidnapped Chubb's daughter.
Carey weaves a complex, imaginative plot that uses clashing narratives to build conflict and suspense,as mysterious characters confront each other and revelations are disclosed in rapid-fire succession.
You'll find yourself waiting impatiently for the eventual throwdown between Chubb and his creation McCorkle, a face-off that will draw all the novel's threads together in a wondrous and thrilling finale. A mesmerizing, innovative work of fiction, My Life as a Fake is as much a thoughtful exploration of conscience as it is a lyrical mystery concerning the creative soul. Tom Piccirilli
Read an Excerpt
In his remarkable new novel, the two-time Booker-winning author Peter Carey creates a Creature as indelible as Frankenstein.
In Melbourne in the 1950s, an arrogant young Australian poet named Christopher Chubb decides to teach his country a lesson about pretension and authenticity. Choosing as his target the trendiest of the literary magazines, he submits for publication the entire oeuvre of one Bob McCorkle, a working class poet of raw power and sexual frankness, conveniently dead at twenty-four and entirely the product of Chubb’s imagination. Not only does the magazine fall for the hoax, but the local authorities also sue its editor for publishing obscenity. At the trial someone uncannily resembling the faked photograph of the invented McCorkle leaps to his feet. At this moment a horrified Chubb is confronted by the malevolent being he has himself manufactured.
Using as a springboard a real literary hoax that transfixed Australia in his boyhood, Peter Carey wickedly and ruefully explores how the phantom poet taunts, haunts and otherwise destroys his maker, pursuing Chubb from Melbourne to a seedy, sweaty, bitter ending in the tropical chaos of Kuala Lumpur. Inexorably the Creature steals Chubb’s life, eclipsing him as a poet and a man. In a twist that is truly devilish, Chubb’s own existence finally comes to depend on the Creature’s “real” unpublished poems.
Peter Carey has composed a manic, endearing and penetrating ode to fakery at its most truthful and truth at its most fake, a novel that penetrates to the heart of the alchemy of literature itself.
Author Biography: Peter Carey was born in Australia in 1943 and now lives in New York City with his family. The author of seven previous novels and a collection of stories, Carey has won the Miles Franklin Award, the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book twice, and the Booker Prize twice -- for Oscar and Lucinda and for his most recent novel, True History of the Kelly Gang, which was also a finalist for the 2002 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.