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April 18, 2005

This Looks Like a Job for the Escapist!

by Ron Hogan

The New York Times finds out about Michael Chabon's alleged Holocaust survivor hoax, following a Bookforum article (excerpted) that's been out for a while. Turns out that Chabon's side of the story isn't the only one with interesting twists and turns:

"In the Bookforum article, Mr. Maliszewski admits that, as a reporter at a Syracuse business newspaper, he besieged his own paper with parodic letters to the editor. Later, he became the Web editor of McSweeney's Quarterly, a job that his editor said ended when Mr. Maliszewski sent McSweeney's subscribers an anonymous e-mail newsletter full of invented gossip about other writers. 'Hundreds of people around New York were getting some incredibly blasphemous e-mail full of incredible fabrications,' said Dave Eggers, McSweeney's editor. 'His contention was that people knew it was a joke. Nobody but him thought it was a joke.'"

(Surely Eggers doesn't mean to suggest that the McS subscriber base is limited to "hundreds of people around New York"? And "blasphemous"? Just what sort of invented gossip was this guy spreading?)

Fortunately, we don't have to rely on second- and third-hand accounts, as NextBook makes Chabon's lecture? monologue? available in streaming audio, along with a letter from NextBook program director Matthew Brogan.

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