Reading guide for Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

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Fake Like Me

by Barbara Bourland

Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland X
Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2019, 368 pages
    Feb 2020, 368 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jamie Chornoby
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Bourland never names the narrator of Fake Like Me. Why do you think she made that choice? How would the book have been different if she had?
  2. The prologue mentions "dramatic rumors of an as-yet-unseen final work" by Carey Logan, the artistic prodigy who committed suicide. In those early chapters, did you have a guess as to what that posthumous piece might be? Were you right?
  3. When the narrator meets Carey in the first chapter, Carey warns her, "These people will make not only your work, but you yourself into a commodity. They'll buy you and sell you. Let them. But make sure you always do it on your own terms." What did Carey mean by this? Would you say that the narrator took her advice, or not? In your own professional or personal life, did you ever get any advice that shifted your trajectory, or that you carried with you for years afterward? Did your understanding of that advice change over time?
  4. When the narrator's loft catches on fire and her massive paintings burn just months before they are set to be exhibited in Paris, she loses two years' worth of work. Rather than admit that she has nothing for the gallery, she resolves to re-create the paintings in secret in the time she has left, terrified of being revealed as a fraud. Yet she is still the creator of the work. Is it possible to falsify your own creations? Discuss what this means in the context of the book's larger questions around authenticity and commodification.
  5. In chapter two, the narrator observes that "art has a way of putting everyone at their most transactional. I'm invisible until someone calculates my value." What do you think she means by this? Do you agree? Do you think this applies only to the art world, or do you see parallels in other parts of life?
  6. Discuss the following description of painting: "One of my professors once told me that she started all of her paintings with a photocopied picture of her parents and the words FUCK YOU scrawled across their faces...All artists are of course doing that same thing: We are burying our past selves within the work, pieces of which rise to the surface without our permission like bodies in a flood."
  7. What do you think of our narrator's friendship with Max de Lacy? Is it an "authentic" friendship? Why or why not? Do you have any friends like Max in your own life? Have you ever been someone's Max?
  8. Jes seems set up to be the villain in the book, the possessive girlfriend who knows more of Tyler's secrets than anyone. How does your feeling about Jes change over the course of the book? Is our narrator's wariness of her well founded?
  9. Why do you think our narrator identifies so fully with Carey Logan? Is she right to have done so?
  10. How did the twist—the multiple twists—in the book shape your feelings about the characters? Did you find yourself having to recalibrate your impressions of any of them?
  11. Do you feel the narrator made the right choice in the end? Why or why not? Would you have made a different decision?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Grand Central Publishing. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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