Dan Mallory, bullshit artist

Dan Mallory is the latest in a long line of people — otherwise middling in talent, white of skin and surburban of origin — to make it big in publishing by fabricating their life's travails and tragedies. "Want to sell a book?" writes Jessa Crispin. "Start lying."

But there is another story these fakes are telling that we want to hear: the story of redemption through the written word. Even if you come from the most hardscrabble of circumstances, even if you have been wiped out by the tidal waves of fate, you can better yourself and your life through literature. It's the literary version of the American dream, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, but in this case, your bootstraps is your manuscript.