You Deserve Nothing

Reading Alexander Maksik’s debut novel, You Deserve Nothing, is among the strangest experiences of my reading life in recent years. When I was nearly halfway through the book, events transpired that completely changed my reading of the book and got me thinking about larger issues of authorial responsibility and the author’s relationship to the text, as well as how readers might understand and react to that relationship. Big stuff—and all in a little book I’d scarcely heard anything about since I picked it up at the Book Expo back in May.

At the start, my reading was uneventful and tending toward positive. Maksik’s novel tells a single story from three points of view. Gilad, now 25 years old, tells of his first year at an international school in Paris. Will, Gilad’s favorite teacher, tells of his classes that year and of his eventual sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student named  Marie, who in turn describes her relationship with Will. Initially, I was impressed with how well Maksik navigated the tricky emotional terrain and with his skill at giving each of the three narrators a distinct voice. Having different characters describe some of the same events showed just how unreliable one person’s perspective can be, even when that person is attempting to be honest, which we cannot assume these characters are.

One of Will’s early encounters with Marie is a good example. When Will describes it, we get an image of Marie as an oversexed, seductive nymphet that 30-something Will would need nerves of steel to resist. She’s giving him alluring looks, rubbing her behind right up against his crotch on the dance floor, pleading for his phone number. He knows his desires are wrong, but what can he do? From Marie’s perspective, we get a whole different story. She’s sexually inexperienced and self-conscious about her looks. She has something of a schoolgirl crush on this handsome young teacher. She turns her back on him on the dance floor because she’s frightened by his erection. He gives her his phone number—she never mentions asking. Are the discrepancies down to differences in perspective, or is one of the narrators spinning the events to make himself look good? That himself is intentional. My sympathies were with Marie from the start. Will’s account of her flirting seemed like clumsy justification for what he knows is bad behavior.

Even though I tended to trust Marie’s story more than Will’s, I didn’t see Will as a predatory monster, but I did see him as an immature jerk who refused to take responsibility for his actions. In truth, I was impressed that Maksik was not depicting him as a monster. How many men who take young women to their beds would act like obvious predators? Will is charming and sweet, and you can see how an insecure girl like Marie would be taken in by him, especially after her first proper boyfriend humiliated her. A grown-up like Will seems safe. I could also see how Will, immature as he is, would allow himself to go further than he intended with Marie. (That’s not an excuse, just a recognition that people lose control of themselves.)

Then, Jezebel broke this story alleging that Maksik himself was asked to leave his teaching position at an international school in Paris because he had a sexual relationship with a student. According to the story, several students who were at the school at the time, including the student Maksik had the relationship with, have reported that the events closely mirror what happened in real life. At this point, neither Maksik nor his publisher, Europa Books, has responded publicly to the charges, and all media reports that I’ve seen seem to rely on the Jezebel story.

I don’t want to get into whether this story is likely to be true. At this point, there’s just not that much information, and I’m no investigative reporter. What I am interested in is how this possibility affected my own reading. On reading the Jezebel article, my first reaction was revulsion, revulsion that someone would do this, and even more revulsion that he would then use that experience to further his literary career. Then I stepped back and remembered that as a general rule, I really don’t care whether the authors of the books I read are good people. It’s nice when they are, but I’ll read books by known assholes if the writing is good and the assholery doesn’t creep into the work in an over-the-top offensive way. Sometimes I’ll even read books that do offend me. This, however, seems different. This isn’t just a jackass author sharing offensive ideas. If the Jezebel story is true, this is a man who exploited a young woman once for his libido and is now exploiting his memory of her for his literary and financial gain. He is directly profiting from his wrongdoing.

Another question is whether it’s appropriate for authors to use real-life events to inspire their fiction. If the story is true, this feels different from an author basing a character on a friend or using isolated incidents from his or her own life to add flavor to a novel. But plenty of novels are known to be based pretty closely on true events. It’s common knowledge, for example, that the philandering husband in Nora Ephron’s Heartburn is Ephron’s own ex-husband Carl Bernstein. In mining real life, at what point does an author cross the line? And does it make a difference if the author acknowledges the autobiographical aspects of the work? I don’t know what I think about these questions, but in Maksik’s case, the element of exploitation cannot be avoided. (The steamiest sex scene in the novel felt downright foul once I learned it might be true.)

This information turned my general suspicion of Will into downright hostility. What looked like an author’s attempt to give a few sparks of humanity to someone society would write off as a predator started to look suspiciously like an author’s attempt to make excuses and to show that men like him aren’t so bad.

That was my gut reaction, but what fascinates me about this book is that I’m not sure the text itself is on Will’s side. There are a few moments when the text seems to turn against Will by having him say and do things that are so obviously sinister that I can’t imagine holding any sympathy for him. One of Will’s colleagues talks about how Will needs to find some peers his own age who care about him and a woman who will kick his ass once in a while. Even Gilad, the student who admires him most, becomes furious at Will’s refusal to acknowledge that he has some responsibilities as a role model for his students. Perhaps the most chilling moment occurs when Marie first comes to Will’s apartment. Will looks at her and thinks, “Although I knew she was playing at seduction, I created her for myself, made her what I wanted.” Ewwwww. Dis-gust-ing—and even more so when we consider that it could also apply to the author. Marie of the novel is his creation. Has he made her into what he wanted her to be?

The novel on the whole is ambiguous in its treatment of Will, and it would be oversimplifying to write this off as a predator’s justification of his own misdeeds. Will’s own version of events reads that way, but the addition of Marie’s and Gilad’s accounts muddy up the waters in a satisfying way. Marie, looking back five years later, is not yet over Will, but I didn’t get the impression that she’s longing for him—it’s more that she’s held captive by the memory, which in itself is upsetting and casts Will’s actions in an even worse light.

If I hadn’t read the story at Jezebel, I’d be praising this book for its complexity and ambiguity, as well as for the ways it explores the intersection of literature and life. (Some of these discussions seem a little too on the nose, but most of the time, it works.) It’s a good book, but the story behind it may very well be so bad that the book can’t help but be tainted.

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37 Responses to You Deserve Nothing

  1. This is so utterly fascinating. It’s really interesting to me that while he may have been attempting to justify his actions he had an awareness of how wrong they were at the same time.

    In mining real life, at what point does an author cross the line?

    A question for the ages right? I mean it’s really hard to imagine that authors are able to completely divorce their stories from real life, but it’s also true that there must be a line when they are using the experiences and lives of others to tell a story…and also to what purpose they are using them. When a story is shared does the teller of the story have the right to tell it at the expense of the other? Is furthering his literary career the only reason he wrote the book or was he also working out his own history and memories? It sounds more like you think he was attempting his cast his actions in a more favorable light.

    Marie, looking back five years later, is not yet over Will, but I didn’t get the impression that she’s longing for him—it’s more that she’s held captive by the memory, which in itself is upsetting and casts Will’s actions in an even worse light.

    Perhaps the most interesting part of all. I think any relationship that is…ugh how to say this, ~not right has the power to imprison the wronged party for a long time, and I mean not only the wronged party but the other as well. And obviously he had that awareness, he knew what it had done to her. And he still wrote the book (if that story’s true) and didn’t give her the free and clear ending. IDK, interesting stuff.

    • Teresa says:

      You make a good point, Amy, that he might be trying to work out his own history as he writes this book. But if that’s the case, he didn’t have to publish it. Give it to his therapist or something. Put it in a drawer. Burn it.

      The text definitely shows an awareness that what he did was wrong, but it’s ambiguous enough that some could read it as actually being romantic but a little twisted. Marie’s captivity to him at the end could in fact be read as a sign of tragically thwarted desire, but it’s just not clear. It’s really well-done, and I’d be enthusiastic about it if my heart weren’t breaking for how there might be a real young woman who’s now having to relive all this.

  2. Alli says:

    I think there is a certain ick factor to him basing the story on these real events, especially because they involved a young student. However, I find it interesting that while you seemed to have some empathy for Will as a character, you said you felt revulsion when you learned the author may have actually done these things. I think this happens a lot–and it must be some echo of what Aristotle describes in his Poetics, that we can feel empathy for characters who do bad things, but that when confronted with actual people who do the same things, we feel anger or revulsion. This is in no way a judgement on your reaction, because I think I’d feel the same way…just a point of interest.

    I really enjoy your blog, by the way!

    • Teresa says:

      Oh, yes, that makes perfect sense. And it ties in with what Amy says below, that fiction is a way of exploring complex situations that we may not ever want to deal with in real life. I was amazed at how my own reading was transformed by this new information. (Not that I had heaps of sympathy for Will at the start, but I wasn’t enraged at him and his lame justifications.)

  3. amymckie says:

    Ooohhh this is a really fascinating review today. The question about the line in writing is one that I am always thinking about, especially in terms of memoirs though. I hadn’t really considered it in fiction. Anything that affects others like this story seems to, seems to be just shady, don’t you think?

    As to this story itself… I find it really interesting that he apparently was in such a situation but yet is able to acknowledge that he wasn’t right by including Marie’s point of view and making it so different. I mean, huh… so doe she know he’s a dirtbag, if the story is true?

    Also, I think it is always easier to read about bad things and have that as a way to think about and work through complex situations whereas if it happens in real life we know that someone has been hurt. Therefore to me the different reactions make a lot of sense.

    • Teresa says:

      This is something that comes up a lot in memoir, and I do wonder about it there too. And yes, if this is true, it does feel shady not to acknowledge that it is to some degree autobiographical.

      I think there is definitely an awareness of his wrong-doing in the text, or at least an awareness that some people would perceive it as wrong. The whole use of Marie’s voice is really interesting, and it also makes the book more of a problem because he’s putting thoughts into his own alleged victim’s head. It’s not clear, even at the end, that Marie perceives him as a dirtbag. She still dreams about him, but she shows signs of disenchantment too. It’s hard to get at what the character thinks.

      • amymckie says:

        Creepy overall I think, Teresa. I can’t help but think on what you said to My Friend Amy above – how the poor girl is having to relive this in such a terrible way. I’ve always thought that myself… we can’t control, it seems from looking at some memoirs, what is written about us at all. What if, for example, my rapist were to write a book? It could say anything about me. It is just so gross to think about that authors can just get away with this you know? I mean, bleh.

  4. Phaedosia says:

    What a great review! I haven’t read the book yet, but I think I’d be much more open to it with some distance. If these events had transpired thirty years ago (or if I were to read the book in thirty years from now), I could separate myself enough from the artist to appreciate the art. Right now, it would make me too uncomfortable to read, I think.

    • Teresa says:

      Good point about distance. I wonder too about how the book might change if the author himself waited longer to write it, once he had some distance.

  5. Jeane says:

    Igh. I had just added this book to my TBR list from another blogger’s review, and now I don’t know what to think. I was intrigued by the story as a novel; knowing it’s true makes me squirm a bit and now I’m not sure if I want to read it or not…

    • Teresa says:

      If I weren’t already halfway through when the story came out, I’m not sure I would have read it. At the very least, I would have moved it down my list to see how/if the author responded.

  6. Jenny says:

    Terrific, terrific review. I think — no, I know — that authors are all thieves;they mine their own lives and the lives of everyone around them for ideas and moments and events and background. So when does it become less fiction and more exploitation? And if it had been a nice story about how the two of them had a charming, quirky, normal relationship and eventually moved in together and had kids, would it be less exploitation even if it was true?

    I tend to agree with what Phaedosia says above, too. If it’s fifty or a hundred years ago, it doesn’t seem as awful, for some reason. Or are we really skeeved out by, say, Henry Miller?

    Love this. So much to consider about why we read how we read.

    • Teresa says:

      It really did make me think. This felt exploitative to me, but in your example it might not because I’d assume that the former student was OK with it now, even if the relationship started in a terrible way. So maybe in that case, the relationship was initially exploitative, but the writing of the book is not.

      I think some people are skeeved out by Henry Miller. And DH Lawrence. And Lewis Carroll. But I sure don’t have the same visceral reaction.

  7. Kate says:

    I’m a previous student of Xander Maksik (as he called himself then) and I’m really glad that you wrote this.

    Since I first read the book I haven’t been able to word my feelings other than making a fist and thinking “How could you…! How dare you!”

    But reading this particular piece has pretty much made me feel a lot better since you’ve summed up a lot of my own thoughts into uh, much more eloquent words. He took advantage of a girl, and taken advantage of her memory and is profiting off of it. I’m still stunned by his bravery and cowardice. It’s really impressive.

    After reading the book I tried to write him an email. I could hardly put my feelings into words, and then saw he was online. I told him I had read it and was shocked, and felt like I had a million questions. I quote you, he said “i’d be happy to know anything you want to tell me. but it’s a novel.”

    I don’t think he was aware that most all of us students at the time heard everything the day after he was fired. Unless he did some underground research upon what teenagers talk about after teachers get fired, the book ultimately just echoed everything I heard about the affair. Also, an unfortunate decision from him, he had written about the abortion on his public blog within the year, similar to the excerpt in the book. My goodness.

    • Teresa says:

      Thank you, Katie, for sharing your perspective. I’m glad you found the post helpful. I do find it hard to imagine that he wouldn’t assume the story would get out. These kinds of things tend to become “open secrets,” and Jenny says below, and even in the book tons of students knew about it. Surely he would expect some speculation about the book.

  8. Yes. This is all fascinating. I first came across the Jezebel story about three days after I published my review (about 2 weeks after I finished the book) and it did change the way I thought about it. I loved reading this book and praised the realism and emotional depth. Knowing it could be true changed everything. It becomes a non-fiction title and I really don’t know how I feel about it now. All I can say is that it is an amazing compelling read and gives a great insight into the mind of a teacher who commits these acts. This is one of the reasons I don’t like to know too much about an author – it does taint the reading experience.
    It will still be one of my favourite reads of the year.

    • Teresa says:

      It is definitely a compelling read. I’ll give Maksik that for sure, but would I have picked it up if it were a memoir? I don’t know. I wonder if it would even have been published as a memoir. Perhaps years and years from now, after he had an established career.

      I’m too overcome with revulsion to call it a favorite of the year, but I don’t do a list of favorites, so I’m off the hook there :) It may very well end up on my year-end list in some form.

    • A parent says:

      While the “realism” in this book isn’t in question, since according to ASP students Maksik pretty much lifted incidents from their classroom experience verbatim, I can’t imagine that anyone thinks there is “emotional depth” in a memoir passed off as fiction by a man who had a sexual relationship with one of his 17-year-old students. Is the “emotional depth” that of lying? I myself am interested in Maksik’s lack of respect for other human beings. One of the things that perplexes me about most of the reviews is their apparent sympathy for the Maksik character. Does Maksik–the author–really explore moral abiguity? I don’t think so. It’s pretty unambiguous that he thought it was just fine to have this relationship–and then write about it–in a way that many people recognized the incidents he described. Can you imagine wondering what the criteria were for the grades he gave in the years he taught at ASP? Oops. I keep wondering if the Provost at Iowa isn’t a tad bit embarassed that Maksik has the Provost’s fellowship for fiction at Iowa. For what fiction?!!!

      I admit my perspective is tarnished by my having though he was smarmy when I had to meet him for a parent-teacher conferences.

  9. Robin Hawke says:

    I remember walking through the Gauguin exhibit in D.C. and feeling betrayed that Gauguin’s predations weren’t examined. The context for someone’s work enriches our understanding. Yet, it becomes so complicated when that context is moral bankruptcy.

    While I know a writer’s work is a product of some or great imagination, I will shun this author, even should his work be fine literature. I’ll let future generations figure out what to do after he dies.

    • Teresa says:

      I didn’t know that about Gauguin (I’ve never studied art in much depth), but I agree that looking at context has its value. I guess for me the question becomes how much does an author’s or artist’s moral bankruptcy inform his or her art? In some cases, the separation is easy to make, but in others (like this book), it’s just about impossible.

  10. A parent says:

    “Could” be true? Oh, it is true. And, as the former ASP student points out above, the upper-school student body knew at least the outlines of Maksik’s abuse of his position of power, ie, a faculty-student affair, the next day when he didn’t show up at school. And parents whose kids got a new English teacher late in the third quarter knew about it soon afterward. This ick factor is enormous. I am surprised that people can still like a book that is so false: it is not fiction.

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your point of view. As I said to Kate, I can’t imagine that he thought word wouldn’t get out about this, both at the school when it happened and when the book was published.

      I can accept that this is a very well-written book, but I can’t get past the ick factor myself. If I’d read it the whole thing and formed an opinion before hearing this story, I don’t know how I’d feel.

  11. Jenny says:

    Oh, ew. Oh ew, ew, ew. Oh yuck. I just — ew. I’m just thinking of a teacher in my own high school who (it was a pretty open secret) was sleeping with some of the senior girls. And that was gross enough, but when I think of the idea of him writing a book about a high school teacher sleeping with a student, bleeeeeeaaagh, that is so much grosser. Oh whyyyyyyy are people like this? (she wailed)

  12. Aparatchick says:

    I can’t abide abuse of power, and the idea that the author not only abused his power over his student, but then chose to profit from it …. ugh.

    “When a story is shared does the teller of the story have the right to tell it at the expense of the other?” Very interesting question. I remember reading about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, wanting to write a novel based on some part of their lives. If I remember correctly, they argued over whose right it was to fashion the material of their lives into a novel as they felt no one would want to read two versions of the same thing (and wouldn’t you just love to be able to read her side!). His argument was that it was his right to tell it – at the expense of her then being unable to do so.

    • Teresa says:

      Thank you for bringing up the Fitzgeralds. I don’t know much about them, but as I was working on this post, they flitted into the back of my mind, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I must have heard that story or something similar at some point. How much of what we know of her today is informed by his version of their story?

  13. nicole says:

    In mining real life, at what point does an author cross the line? And does it make a difference if the author acknowledges the autobiographical aspects of the work?

    This has colored a lot of my response to the furore (I haven’t read the novel and likely won’t). I think of things like Philip Roth and I Married a Communist, which is similar to the Ephron example—is it jerk-ish? Yes. Is Philip Roth kind of a jerk? Yes. But…I don’t really care—unless the text is, within itself, bad.

    What interests me is that you’re one of the first posts I’ve read of someone who finished the book after the Jezebel story broke, and you suggest that perhaps, in this case, the text isn’t on Will’s (Maksik’s) side.

    Will’s own version of events reads that way, but the addition of Marie’s and Gilad’s accounts muddy up the waters in a satisfying way. Marie, looking back five years later, is not yet over Will, but I didn’t get the impression that she’s longing for him—it’s more that she’s held captive by the memory, which in itself is upsetting and casts Will’s actions in an even worse light.

    The Jezebel story quoted, somewhat damningly, some fawning quotes from reviews of the novel that seemed to interpret the unreliable narrator issues in a different light. Perhaps Jezebel’s breaking of the scandal actually makes the novel and the scandal itself “better” overall in some sense—it allows readers who know now about it to see that the novel may in fact be more purgatory, more anti-Will (anti-Maksik) than previously perceived, etc. Perhaps the praise should in fact not be for its “complexity and ambiguity.”

    Of course, this is totally uninformed, not having read the novel. Perhaps the anti-Will elements are not strong enough to support this.

    • Teresa says:

      The quotes in the Jezebel story are interesting because most of them are from the marketing material rather than actual reviews. Sebold launched the imprint its published under and Schwartz, from what I can tell, blurbed the book. The quoted NYT review skeeves me out on a couple of levels—the reviewer seemed to see Will’s wrongdoing as trivial, for one thing.

      I actually think the text could support both a sympathetic and a nonsympathetic reading of Will. There’s a lot of talk about how we don’t have a right to expect things to make sense and about how people may or may not be in control of their actions, all of which could be read as a way of saying people’s expectations are too high and that the outrage directed at Will was unfair. I think a lot would depend on which character’s point of view you’re inclined to privilege or whether you’re able to balance all three. It would be interesting now to go back and look at a bunch of reviews and see if one character’s account seems to get more credit than others.

  14. Deb says:

    Perhaps another question would be: Did the author deliberately pursue a relationship with an underage student in order to have some material to “mine”? Stranger things have happened.

    I think once you know about an author’s private life, it can’t help but color your interpretation of their work. Sometimes learning about the author’s life makes some things in their work apparent. For example, I find that both Phillip Roth and Saul Bellow treat women horribly in their fiction–and, whaddya know, it turns out that they treated them badly in real life too!

    • Teresa says:

      This book was definitely a case in which knowledge of the allegations about the author made some aspects of the work more obvious. The exploitative nature of Will’s relationship with Marie and the nastier aspects of his character were much more obvious to me than they may have been had I not approached the last half of the book with a feeling of suspicion.

  15. selena says:

    I read this same book, and I really loved it. I wrote about buying it in a post on my blog and the same two people who have been posting these reviews on Amazon and spamming my blog with comments (unapproved, since I’m really not interested in getting blog visits over something like this) responded.

    Many of the books I’ve read are written by people i dislike, some actively, but the books are wonderful. For this one, I really was torn because it does change the book.

    It may be naive of me but I had a chance to talk to Alexander about this and he says that his novel is just that. And until I know otherwise, I’m choosing to believe the author. (Also, I imagine something like this would have come up in the publication process of the book, so the publishing house would have found out about the incident before they published a book about a potentially illegal affair).

    • Teresa says:

      Yes, I’ve read and admired many books by people I dislike. I don’t expect all good authors to be good people. But whether true or not, the allegations definitely influenced my reading of this book.

    • A parent says:

      Hi Selena,

      I haven’t posted reviews on Amazon & I’m not spamming your blog, but I am wondering how many people need to tell you that what Maksik has claimed to be “fiction” is “fact” before you believe it? Perhaps, ask yourself this: if he, or anyone else, really, were accused of passing off fiction/novel as fact/memoir, how would you feel about it? Is that ok? And, if it’s not, why is the reverse? As for your conversation w/ Maksik, Did you ask Maksik if he’d ever taught at ASP? If he’d ever gotten a student pregnant? If he had suddenly left his job mid-quarter? Do you think he owes these very real people he writes about nothing?

      Why would you imagine this information would come up in the publication process?

      • sharonapple88 says:

        (Also, I imagine something like this would have come up in the publication process of the book, so the publishing house would have found out about the incident before they published a book about a potentially illegal affair).

        Knowing what I do about publishing houses… not likely.

        The burden in fact checking is left to the writer. Publishers cover themselves with the warranty clause — where the writer has to promise that the work is original, not libelous, and doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy. Publishers protect themselves from claims with this clause.

        As for whether this story is true, you have to ask why someone would make up a story like this? There are a number of books with teacher-student affairs lately — “The Adults” and “The Kingdom of Childhood” — and similar rumours have not risen with these writers. In fact if the stories about Maksik are untrue, he’d have good grounds for libel.

  16. I read the Jezebel story first, before having ever heard of Maksik and this novel. Because of this, I can’t read his novel with an unprejudiced eye, as you were able to. I appreciate your perspective on this novel and it’s apparent non-controversy (since no one but Jezebel is talking about it). I was very disturbed and intrigued, so I emailed the author of the Jezebel article, Elissa Strauss. Unfortunately, she was in contact with several of Maksik’s then students, and another who confirmed that the affair actually happened. She says that she completely trusts this person. She also said that she hasn’t heard back from anyone-Maksik, his publisher, or even his representatives. Apparently they think it will all just go away if they ignore it long enough.

    I think what upsets me most is what you pointed out in your review; first he exploited her sexually, and now he’s exploiting his memory of her for literary and financial gain. Regarding what authors can use from real life in their fiction, at the very least he had an obligation to let her and the other students know he was writing about them and intended to publish what had happened as a novel. He also has a legal obligation to change events and characters enough that their real counterparts would not be recognizable (see controversy surrounding “The Help”). He did not do this.

    Given all of this, I am not sure whether I want to read the book. If I did, I think I would have to look at it from the perspective of the revisionist aspect of literature. In other words, to see how Maksik changed what little we know of events to suite his own ends. The three perspectives would help with this, I think, but I just don’t know if I could stomach it.

    Thank you for posting this review/discussion. I have also discussed this issue on my blog at parnassusreads.com.

  17. high school English teacher says:

    I read this book and loved it, recommended it to friends, and now feel like a total and complete shit after learning that I basically promoted and condoned the actions of a pedophile. To pardon Maksik’s real life actions, or mask them with moral ambiguity, is to be complicit with the misogynistic power dynamic that he abused as an individual, teacher and writer. He had to foresee that the truth would come out and that his ‘fiction’ would be revealed for what it was, and then he did it anyway? He wrote the graphic sexual scenes knowing that a real young woman would be forced to relive them and be further exposed. And he did it anyway. He’s obviously morally, sexually and socially bankrupt. And so does it matter in the world of literature? I would like to think that there is a moral code in all literature, regardless of the author’s character, that adheres to boundaries in fiction where real people are not knowingly exposed and used for the author’s benefit. Fitzgerald at least spoke with his wife. He at least had the integrity to communicate the story behind the story with his readers. But Maksik tries to play it off as if he was an artist in the throes of creation, rather than a con artist in the throes of deception and libel.

  18. Pingback: letters and sodas: booknotes » Blog Archive » You Deserve Nothing by Alexander MaksikEuropa Editions, 2011

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