19 September 2016 | paul-allaer
Examining the differences between original authorship and defrauding the public at large
"Author: The JT Leroy Story" (2016 release; 110 min.) brings the story of the JT Leroy literary phenomenon from the late 90s./early 00. As the movie opens, we see Winona Ryder give praise to JT Leroy for being such an inspiration. We then go back to "Brooklyn, 1995" and we get to know a woman by the name of Laura Albert, who, as it turns out, is the voice and brains behind JT Leroy, a shy 15 yr. old boy who may be imaginary to us, but is all too real in Laura's mind and, as we'll see in the movie, in the minds of many other people (Dennis Cooper, Bruce Benderson, Billy Corgan, Courtney Love, etc.). To tell you more of the story would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this documentary is written and directed by Jeff Feuerzeig, who previously brought us another outstanding documentary called "The Devil and Daniel Johnston". Here he examines the JT Leroy story, and the fine line that exists between original authorship and a hoax. When all this happened in the mid/late 90s, I was vaguely aware of it, but by no means in the amount of details that we are given here. It is an absolutely fascinating story that would be hard to believe, if in fact it hadn't happened. You can't make this stuff up! Laura Albert is of course a master storyteller, and she carries the documentary on her back, both for the good and for the not-so-good. As she points out, the books published under the JT Leroy name were clearly labeled "FICTION".
I saw "Author: The JT Leroy" this past weekend at the Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington, DC. The early evening screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great (I don't know how long this has been playing already). If you are in the mood for a great documentary that examines many interesting aspects of what some call the greatest literary hoax ever, you cannot go wrong with this. "Author: The JT Leroy Story" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!