Monday, April 02, 2007

The Hoax, Our J, and The Birdie on the Rain Trough

Patty here…

The Hoax…

Saturday night I went to a screening of “The Hoax,” directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Richard Gere and Alfred Molina as Clifford Irving and his writer friend and co-conspirator Richard Suskind.

Somehow I had forgotten about the controversy surrounding Irving's book The Autobiography of Howard Hughes. I’d like to tell you I was too young to read when the news broke, but that would be as big a whopper as Irving told his publisher McGraw-Hill.

Here’s the set-up. Clifford Irving was a moderately successful author faced with a dilemma. McGraw Hill had turned down his last book, and he needed to get their attention with something big, something flashy. He needed a breakout book with a breakout advance. (Hey—don’t we all.) Then the cartoon light bulb went on over Irving's head. He told his editor he was writing the autobiography of eccentric Howard Hughes based on extensive in-person interviews with the reclusive billionaire. This was as big as it got in those days. Hughes hadn’t been seen in public for years. Now he was willing to tell his story, but only through Irving.

The folks at McGraw-Hill were skeptical and rightly so. Clifford Irving had a few books under his belt but he wasn’t exactly William Shakespeare. To convince them that he was on the up-and-up, Irving presented handwritten letters purportedly written by Hughes, extolling Irving’s virtues as a conduit. The letters were authenticated by a handwriting expert, after which McGraw-Hill authorized a large advance, $100,000 of which was paid to Irving. The manuscript was completed. The book published. The media blitz went into high gear. The problem? The whole thing was a fake, a hoax, a scam, a trick, a ruse—a fraud of monumental proportions. On his Web site, Irving disavows any connection to the film and claims many of the facts in it are wrong. If you don’t remember what happened in the end, including the unintentional political firestorm, I won't spoil it for you. See the movie or read Irving's memoir about the episode. You may be able to piece together the truth of the story from one of those sources. Or not.

Seeing "The Hoax" gave me an idea. I’m going to write a sensational new book called The Official Autobiography of Our Pauly Levine. It’s based on extensive interviews with the notoriously reclusive Edgar and Thriller nominated TV-writing lawyer who recently guest-starred in a new reality show called “The Jury Is In.” I’m asking million dollar advance...a million, yeah that’s the ticket ($100,000 adjusted for inflation). I know I can count on Jim, Cornelia, and Our J to co-conspire, but you can help, too. Please send me any made-up stories you have about Levine's life or career. The picture below might stimulate some thought. (Seriously, did anyone ever see Howard Hughes and Levine together on the same aircraft carrier?)

If the above picture doesn't inspire you to make up stuff about Pauly, try this one.

NakedAuthor sighting…

Last Sunday I invited our own Jacqueline Winspear to regale the members of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America with the Naked Truth About Literature and Life. As usual she was elegant and inspiring. Here are a couple of pictures taken at the event.

Are we two hot babes or what?

Our J was interviewed by fellow writer and immediate past president of MWA SoCal, the debonair James Lincoln Warren. Here she is with James (right) and current president Les Klinger (left), an internationally recognized expert on Sherlock Holmes and an Edgar winner for his non fiction tome The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes.

The Birdie on the Rain Trough...

Last year a couple of house finches (Carpodicus Mexicanus) built a nest under a rain trough on my house just outside the room where I write. I watched the couple all through the spring, flying to the tree for a twig, flying back to place it on the nest. Seemed like a lot of work to me. Sort of like writing novels.

The male bird dive-bombed me if I came too close to the nest, so if there were any eggs in there I never saw them. Eventually the birds left town for parts unknown. Last winter I finally took the nest down to get ready for the Southern California winter rains. Now the birds are back and building in the same spot. If there are any House Finch whisperers out there, here’s what I want to know.
  • Are they the same birds that camped out with me last year? And
  • Without a Blackberry, how did they remember my address?

Please email this post to any publisher who may be willing to offer Patty a million dollars for her fake autobiography of Paul Levine. All you have to do is click on the envelope icon below and follow the instructions. You may also send this post to friends, foes, or forest rangers but nobody else. Thank you for your cooperation. —NakedAuthors Administrator


  1. You and Our J look GORGEOUS (as always)!

    I would make something up about Paul, but the truth is so much more interesting...

  2. Well, Patty, wouldn't the proper course involve selling the manuscript to Paul's publisher for a milliuon bucks--NOT to publish it?

    I dunno. I'm thinking this story is for the birds. I'm just glad that J was around. :)

  3. So is Levine the TV-writing lawyer or the guy with good hair?

  4. Hey, Cornelia. I see you're coming to LA for the LATFOB. Yay! More photo ops.

    Jeff, sell the autoB to Paul's publisher? You're a genius!

    Martyg, Levine is definitely the TV-writing lawyer but I'm afraid he has to share "good hair" honors with the two Jims.

  5. Well, given that Pauley is the love child of Clifford Irving and ...

    No, huh?

    You and Jackie look fabulous in that photo, Patty. Ready for framing. (How's that for a mystery tie in?)

  6. Dear Ms. Smiley:

    We represent Mr. Paul J. Levine, Esq. in his case against you for invasion of privacy, libel, and tortious interference with his Monday morning breakfast.

    You have published a photo taken on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in violation of the Patriot Act. You would doubtless be prosecuted personally by Alberto Gonzales if he had any idea how to handle an actual case. Nonetheless, we will be taking up this matter with George “Mission Accomplished” Bush as soon as our checks are cashed by the Republican National Committee.

    You have also altered Mr. Levine’s moot court photo to make it appear that a muskrat is residing on his head.

    Please immediately cease, desist (and otherwise stop) your unlawful conduct. On the other hand, if you can sell the damn book, we’ll be happy to take one-third as a fee.

    Irwyn P. Schmutz, Esquire
    Schumutz, Scheiss, and Schmegegee

  7. "...perfect for framing."

    Sounds like a great title for your next book, Louise.

  8. Patty and J, you two look fabulous at the shindig.
    Yes, that is the same set of birds. For them, a blackberry is, well, a blackberry --- a tasty treat [no jokes about them being berry picking Carpodicus Mexicanus]. However, they do have a built-in Garmin.
    As to the biography of Paul......someone might want to start with an in-depth inquiry of a certain Halloween picture posted last year.....

  9. Dear Mr. Irwyn P. Schmutz, Esquire:

    We regret to inform you that Ms. Smiley opened your rather vitriolic letter while eating her morning Grape Nuts, whereupon she snorted milk through her nose and had to be rushed to the hospital. If your client agrees to pay Ms. Smiley's medical expenses she will drop the premeditated-laughter penalty in her counter-suit against your client Mr. Paul Levine, Esq.

    John Smith, Esq.
    Smith, Jones, and Smith

  10. Jon, thanks for the bird info. I just find it miraculous that they remember the EXACT place the nest was a year ago.

    And that Halloween picture...oh, I forgot about that one. I must go to the archives. Thanks for the tip.

  11. I think the law offices of Schumutz, Scheiss, and Schmegegee is a front for someone....I remind the miscreant that it is unlawful to give legal advice without valid license.
    Further, it is my understanding that Truth is a indisputable defense against libel.Photoshop not withstanding, a picture is still worth a thousand words [at least that's what I argued when, to fulfill a 1,000 word essay requirement, I turned in a picture to my 8th grade English teacher, Ms Grumpshank].

    Howie Fooldus

  12. Not to burst anyof your bubbles, but who would want to read such a book about PL? I mean, we can go to Jim Borns website and get ALL the skinny for free, AND know that each and every word is the absolute truth to boot.

    You and Jackie are too beautiful for words.


  13. Howie, fess up. You are really a spy from the law offices of Dewey, Cheatum and Howe.

    Oh my dear sweet Groupie, you think you can trust Born? HA!

  14. Everybody's complimenting you on how gorgeous you and Jackie appear in that photo. This is disturbing on several fronts.

    First, you didn't give me photo credit, and I'm the guy who took the picture. Yes, it was your camera, and you asked me only because I was standing there like a Japanese tourist in an airport, but I still deserve some credit for how good I made you two look.

    Secondly, none of you seem to be drooling at the striking picture of Les and me (with whatsername squeezed between us for absolutely no reason at all that I can recall). I find this terribly sexist. After all, aren't Les and me what you would call classic "silver foxes"? Extremely well fed silver foxes, OK, but we do have that platinum sheen thing going for us.

    All right, all right, I admit it--neither of us is exactly a Paul Levine, but still.

  15. James, you're right, not everybody can be Pauly Levine, but as bon vivants go, you and Les are right up there at the top of the heap.

    And world...James Lincoln Warren took the photo of Our J and me. Okay? Satisfied? Sheesh!

  16. Hi, Patty - better late than never. I am here in Sussex, England, at my parents' house, and late because they live right out in the sticks and internet access is well nigh impossible.

    Love the post Patty - and that Sunday with MWA SoCal was great fun - as evidenced by the smiles!

  17. I have a story about Paul and Melvin Dumar.

  18. I just got an offer to ghost write a new tell-all book. Isn't that great? It's one of those "What I Saw Through the Window Last Summer" stories--but apparently I'm going to have to brush up on my house finch. The official co-athors will be a young married couple, and amazingly enough, they've already signed for a sequel!

    Ayway, so why is it that the hot babes are always already taken?