Laura Albert, as “Laura Albert.”nytimes.com
The Times seems to have gone into the book-proposal business today. In the Metro section, Alan Feuer — war reporter and a memoirist himself — practically pitched, wrote, and blurbed the case of JT LeRoy imposter Laura Albert, describing it as “a literary cautionary tale, the story of a writer who hid behind her own assumed identity and lost herself while reaching for the truth.” Paging Nan Talese! Get Rudin on line two! Because Albert’s got quite a story to tell: drugs, sexual abuse, truckers with a spanking fetish. Or does Feuer want to tell it for her? Check out some of the purplest prose we’ve seen since Rick Bragg left the Gray Lady: “Life at home, meanwhile, was bad enough,” he writes. “Ms. Albert ran away. She landed in the punk scene, in the East Village, with the hustlers and the addicts … She was still in her early teens.”
Forget that the peg for the piece is a lawsuit brought by Antidote International Films over Sarah, the now decidedly fictional memoir turned movie about JT LeRoy. (Not that Feuer bothers to name the production company.) Because this time, Feuer seems to buy Albert’s latest story (about alternate identities “finally forced together by the self-revealing power of the witness stand”) hooker, coke-line, and sinker.
Bonus for the critics and radio shows: It’s “an oddly highbrow exploration of a psycho-literary landscape filled with references to the imagination’s fungible relation to reality.” And Feuer has plenty of experience musing self-importantly about his own credulous coverage. His memoir, Over There: From the Bronx to Baghdad, critiques his paper’s — and his own — tendency to smooth over and sensationalize difficult stories. So there’s even a little of that self-awareness in today’s proposal — um, article. “Stripped of its emotion and labyrinthine literary games,” he writes, “the trial is no more than a contractual dispute.” Yeah, right. —Boris Kachka
Related: “Who Is the Real JT LeRoy?” [NYM]