If you've been reading the NYT's books coverage, you know that Laura Albert, a.k.a. JT LeRoy, has been successfully sued for fraud by the filmmakers who bought the option for thr novel Sarah. Stephen Burt in Slate today makes the point that all of the fuss over LeRoy's identity seems to have little, if anything, to do with the work itself.
The specific claim against Albert seems to hinge on marketing: that the LeRoy identity was created as a ploy to bring attention to and help sell Albert's novel. This led to some particularly weird arguments. Albert's defense was that LeRoy was a genuine identity, created in part to help Albert deal with past sexual abuse. Antidote International Films countered that "LeRoy" had stiffed them for the tab at a lunch meeting. (The NYT articles, behind the Times Select wall, are here and here.
I think I've discussed this at length in this post, but I have to lend support to Burt's argument that the LeRoy controversy is really about nothing but marketing. I've never read the book (and have no intention to do so), but I don't see why it matters whether it was written by a gender-ambiguous street prostitute or by a committee of trained monkeys. I am, however, irked by the cult of personality that surrounded LeRoy and the implied argument that the book was only worthy of attention if it was an authentic result of someone's experience. ("It's a novel, but it really happened!")
So I smiled when the golden boy identity came crashing down, but Albert on the whole seems much more worthy of our pity than our contempt. And the book, good or bad, should stand on its own.
The kicker is that there are rumors of interest in an Adaptation-style film project revolving around Albert/LeRoy and her work. I hope she makes back the money she lost in this lawsuit and then some.