Another one of my favored authors now plagued with controversy, this one even more bizarre than the last. The 2000 novel by JT LeRoy called “Sarah” that was published when he was just 19 years old, was a wonderful and strange story of a 12 year boy posing as a female prostitute at truckstops in the Southland. I liked the story and how this kid translated the world. His next book: “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things”, was more a collection of short stories that I took to be autobiagraphical and thought he wrote beautifully about abuse he endured during his intense childhood and later as a street punk teen hustler with a heroin addiction & subsequent HIV infection.
I had read articles about JT in major magazines and knew he was friends with other authors like Denis Cooper & Dave Eggers. I also heard he was too shy to read his own work in front of people, so he would get celebrities to read for him, like Winona Ryder & Courteny Love. The only photos I saw of him, he was wearing a wig and dressed like a girl. I waited for another novel, but not much else came out other than a short book about a snail, although I think his next book is expected sometime this year. Despite no more published work other than articles he wrote for different magazines, he sort of hung in the air and continued to capitalized on his little bit of celebrity. I knew he had a blog, but I would only read bits of it from time to time. Here is an excerpt:
“I don't dislike Xmas, it just is so very strong the association of being outside an imagined other… the streets are so still and it feels like all the world is snuggled, safe in anticipated joviality –just like on all the commercials and TV shows. Even if you are a punk, and scoff at all that – the very desolateness of the streets, can catch the steel-woolliest of throats. It does mine… of what it should look like. That what ever family you have made at present, ain't as good as that Hallmark one…”
An article released in October by New York Magazine claims that JT LeRoy is not a really a Southern boy who survived a terrible childhood to go on be an accomplished writer, but really a creation of a 40 year old middle class woman from Brooklyn.
You can read the article here.
A lot of people had been fooled in the last 6 years: publishers, readers and celebrities alike. Too bad he never appeared on Oprah.