Summary and book reviews of Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

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
    Paperback:
    Feb 2020, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jamie Chornoby
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About this Book

Book Summary

At once a twisted psychological portrait of a woman crumbling under unimaginable pressure and a razor-sharp satire of the contemporary art scene, Fake Like Me is a dark, glamorous, and addictive story of good intentions gone awry, from the critically acclaimed author of I'll Eat When I'm Dead.

Carey Logan was the art world's genius wild child.

FAKE

I was a no-name painter clawing my way up behind her.

LIKE

When Carey died, she left a space that couldn't be filled. Except, maybe, by

ME

After a fire rips through her loft, destroying the seven billboard-size paintings meant for her first major exhibition, a young painter is left with an impossible task: recreate the lost artworks in just three months without getting caught - or ruin her fledgling career. Homeless and desperate, she begs her way into Pine City, an exclusive retreat in upstate New York notorious for three things: outrageous revelries, glamorous artists, and the sparkling black lake where brilliant prodigy Carey Logan drowned herself.

Taking up residence in Carey's former studio, the painter works with obsessive, delirious focus. But when she begins to uncover strange secrets at Pine City and falls hard for Carey's mysterious boyfriend, a single thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?

Pine City took no interest in me until they knew who I was and saw for themselves what kind of paintings I made. This was exactly what I expected—what I'd grown to expect from everyone else— and it didn't bother me in the slightest.

For what is the point of a career, if not to legitimize yourself ? The point of a career as an artist, you might say, if you are

lucky enough to have one, is to express yourself. Sure. Of course. Self-expression is the thrust of it. But it also becomes about identification; it becomes the bedrock of who you are as a person. I think there is something about accomplishment—where you be- come so embittered by the realities of how hard it is to make it, to get anywhere at all, even to a place where you're broke and living in a rotting shack in upstate New York and sleeping on a borrowed fifty-year-old mattress—that it is no longer possible to connect emotionally with anyone who had it easier than you or, more particularly, differently from...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may 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, ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Barbara Bourland's voice is sharp and satirical. She nudges readers to think about weighty topics: the formation of identity, the commodification of people, the desire to succeed, the pressure to be authentic and the potentially devastating consequences of greed. Fake Like Me is an unconventional thriller with an unreliable narrator that demands the reader's full attention, but provides plenty of rewards in exchange...continued

Full Review (528 words).

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(Reviewed by Jamie Chornoby).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Bourland expertly shines a light on the nature of female ambition and desire and the often dark heart of inspiration. Readers fascinated with the blood, sweat, and tears of creating art will be especially rewarded.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Readers eager for a glimpse into the New York art scene will be enthralled...A haunting, dizzying meditation on identity and the blurred lines between life and art.

Booklist (starred review)
Bourland has an uncanny knack for spatial description and relates artwork and every last thing in Pine City—'half Dirty Dancing, half Twin Peaks'—with pristinely observed color and feeling. She also nails the creep factor, and her narrator's high tolerance for it, with foreboding signs that the no-name painter isn't totally welcome there, and that there's more to Carey's story. The deck stacked against her, the narrator tells the glitteringly compelling tale of her fevered summer and wisely reveals meaningful intersections of class, gender, and making art.

Library Journal (starred review)
The creative process confronts reality in this compelling literary thriller centering on art, identity, and deception, as told in Bourland's sharp prose. A must for those with an artistic bent, a sheer reading pleasure for all.

Author Blurb Louise O'Neill, author of Only Ever Yours
With her trademark flair and razor-sharp attention to detail, Barbara Bourland offers the reader an incisive exploration of the tension between the desire to make art and the desire to make money. Fake Like Me is satirical, brilliantly realized, and has a twist you simply won't see coming...

Author Blurb Lisa Gabriele, author of The Winters
A ridiculously propulsive page turner. Barbara Bourland has written a 'du Maurier-esque' literary thriller about sexual jealousy and artistic legacy, a gorgeously scathing critique of the New York art scene, and a warning about the deadly consequences of stifling female expression. Could. Not. Put. It. Down.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Lee Lozano's Dropout Piece

Black and white photo of artist Lee Lozano In Fake Like Me, author Barbara Bourland alludes to artist Lee Lozano (1930-1999) and her elusive, controversial final project called Dropout Piece. This piece of performance art was Lozano's act of withdrawing from the art world in order to be an outsider. She slipped into isolation through the end of her life, pushing the boundaries of lived art, performance art, and conceptual art. Bourland considers Lozano's unusual project, and how her rigorous, defiant act might have influenced artists that came after her.

To understand what inspired Dropout Piece and why it was important to Lozano to remove herself from social spheres, it is necessary to review her short and strange history as an artist. Most of her work was created within the ...

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