Friday, 10 August 2007

The Hoax

The Hoax is the story of struggling author Clifford Irving, who, after his latest book is shelved, in a fit of bravado tells his erstwhile publishers that he has ‘the book of the century’. While thinking what that book might be, he remembers an article on the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.

Hughes, an eccentric, hasn’t spoken in public for 15 years and communicates only by hand written memos. Hand written memos that are published in the media. Memos that Irving feels confident that he can forge.

So he tells the publisher that he’s been collaborating with Hughes on his autobiography. As no one could contact Hughes, no one could prove Irving wrong. The more ludicrous Irving’s supposed instructions from Hughes, the more plausible they sound.

It’s a true story (for the most part) and you can read about it at
Clifford Irving’s website. Although Irving says that really it's a hoax about a hoax.

The film directed by ABBA the Movie director Lasse Hallstrom is one of the best I’ve seen this year. Richard reminds us that actually he is a very good actor. Alfred Molina gives able support as his right hand man.

Every time the heat gets too much Irving cranks it up a notch. The greed though is all over the place as everyone involved gets excited about landing a book that would ‘sell more copies than The Bible’.

The film sags a little bit as Irving descends into paranoia and madness, but it’s never less than a fascinating study of greed, obsession and arrogance.

You can
download some chapters of the hoax autobiography in PDF format from Irving's website.

The Crime Library has a good article on the story of how the hoax autobiography came into being.

There's also an article on the saga at Time magazine.

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