23 Jan Book Review – Sarah by JT Leroy
‘You better not swipe my leather skirt,’ she yelled over the shower water streaming down. I leaned into the Sheetrock bathroom door. ‘I’m going as a boy,’ I shouted…since I’ll be making more than you. As a boy, I’ll kick you down some change.’ (JT Leroy, 2005, pp.3-4)
I guess I was supposed to read between the lines – the lines about former child sex worker JT Leroy’s tragic “real-life story” of child prostitution, drug abuse and violent maternal rejection – to find out that JT Leroy is nothing but a lie. JT Leroy is actually Laura Albert, a cynical 40 year-old phone-sex worker who needed to invent a gay, homeless runaway in order to get her books published. Hey, who am I to judge? Everyone needs to make a buck!
And all those sex abuse victims who found in Leroy a kindred spirit, a source of strength and inspiration BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT HE WAS REAL, well, they just need to GET OVER IT. Hmm…do we sense a slightly aggravated tone?
“(Reading Sarah) was like flipping through a photo album of snapshots I had taken of the people I hated, presented to me by the same scared little boy I was at that time.” – Kevin Lenkel (fan and sex abuse victim), 2005
After receiving heartfelt soul-bearings such as this, you would think Albert would take a long hard look at herselves and say “okay, this isn’t funny anymore guys, people are going to get hurt, time to come clean”. But she didn’t. Instead she signed a picture deal worth more than $100000! Not only that, but the kid from Big Daddy wore dresses and make up all in the name of giving an accurate portrayal of a person that doesn’t even exist!!! Say Whaaaaa???
Laura Albert’s pleas for pity and understanding after being exposed (and successfully sued) as a fraud really do boggle the mind. And that Smashing Pumpkin-head Billy Corgan boasts that he’s known about Albert’s literary racket since 2002 – don’t even get me started on that!!!!
I wanted to see if Sarah is as tragically haunting, poignant and engrossing as a fiction novel as it was as a chilling, thinly-veiled autobiography. So I re-read it. If you’re a glass-half-full kind of reader, you might enjoy the Da Vinci Code-esque opportunity of spotting the clues to JT Leroy’s true identity which are (in my opinion) littered throughout the book.
All in all, Sarah remains a lucid, graphic story. However, the wounds from Albert’s betrayal are still open and therefore prevent me from becoming engrossed in the narrative. I now keep my compassionate nature well away from Laura Albert’s work – to protect it from any further injury.
And so it seems the lesson us idiotically empathetic readers were supposed to learn is….what exactly? Oh yeah – The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, except Laura Albert.
Verdict: Sarah by JT Leroy – 5/5. Sarah by Laura Albert – 3/5.
Shock horror! I intend to review Author: The JT Leroy Story verrrry soon folks. Stay tooooned!