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(Full disclosure: my former advisor was consulted for this book.)
Fake is part of a series whose goal is to closely examine banal, everyday objects and ideas in order to reveal their complex, hidden histories. Fake examines the idea of “fakeness” or falseness–fake boobs, electric candles, Paris in Las Vegas, etc–and the derogatory connotations that swirl around it.

Author Kati Stevens immediately won me over when she opened the book with a takedown of the vaunted, (overrated,) angsty Holden Caufield, narrator of Catcher in the Rye. Specifically, Stevens examines Caufield and the egotism, reductiveness, and naivete of his belief that everyone and everything around him is “phony.” Caufield is an excellent illustration of accepted cultural norms about “real” versus “fake.” Overall, Fake aims to interrogate what it is we think we’re getting from the “real” thing and what we’re searching for either by clamoring for “real” things or by accepting their imitation.

Though the book has overtones of academia and of academic writing, the prose is straightforward and very readable. Stevens offers examples of all of the concepts she explores, and–to me, anyway–turning over the rock of the everyday to look at what’s underneath is the best kind of eggheadery. So if you turn your nose up at analyzing the implications of faux vintage lanterns at Pottery Barn, you’re not going to enjoy this book. If you revel in the critical examination of objects around you and criticism of commonly accepted attitudes, this book will be your new friend.

Reviewed By:

Author Kati Stevens • Christopher Schaberg, Series Editor • Ian Bogost, Series Editor
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 160 pages
Publisher Bloomsbury Academic
Publish Date 2018-Sep-20
ISBN 9781501338137
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue January 2019
Category Reference


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