AUTHOR-THE J.T. Leroy STORY Reviewed


Directed by Jeff Feuerzeig

In 2006, the New York Times exposed the writer J.T. Leroy, author of Sarah and a volume of short stories, as a hoax. The work actually came from the pen of Laura Albert, a 40-year old sex phone operator. It seems rather harmless to have used a pen name, but the use of her sister-in-law as a public stand- in for years makes the hoax more complicated. This film, trusting again in the story presented by Albert, attempts to sort it out. This deception went on for about a decade and drew in luminaries such as Gus Van Sant, Courtney Love, Tom Waits and others. They all wanted to believe a transsexual teenager could produce the work. The sordidness of the supposed experiences of Leroy were seductive, noirish, enticing.

This is a complicated story and we have to depend on Albert to explain things. There is little evidence about its evolution beyond what she tells us. I’m not sure why the director didn’t look for an authenticating source. Maybe he was more interesting in her gift for story-telling than any more ordinary truth. You will either find this film endlessly fascinating or you will resent participating in a continuation of the hoax. I take the later view.

Patti Abbott

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