Fake Accounts

Lauren Oyler

Fake Accounts
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Fake Accounts

Lauren Oyler

On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a young woman snoops through her boyfriend’s phone and makes a startling discovery: he’s an anonymous Internet conspiracy theorist, and a popular one at that. Already fluent in Internet fakery, irony, and outrage, she’s not exactly shocked by the revelation. But this is only the first in a series of bizarre twists that expose a world whose truths are shaped by online lies.

Suddenly left with no reason to stay in New York - or be anywhere in particular - she flees to Berlin, and embarks on her own cycles of manipulation in the deceptive spaces of her daily life, from dating apps to expat social events, open-plan offices to bureaucratic waiting rooms.

Narrated in a voice as seductive as it is subtly subversive, Fake Accounts is a wry, provocative and very funny debut novel about identity and authenticity in the age of the internet.

Review

I know it takes years for a book to be written, edited and printed, but Lauren Oyler’s debut novel Fake Accounts feels so immediate that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t written last week and just beamed into my hands via some kind of publishing magic. Even from the very first page it’s painfully relatable, imbued with that feeling that we’re spiralling inexorably towards our own doom but we’re too numbed by the 24-hour news cycle, our dependence on social media, and our own impotence to do anything about it.

Told in an almost stream-of-consciousness first person, this novel sweeps you through the unnamed narrator’s life as she makes two discoveries: one, that her boyfriend was secretly an influential conspiracy theorist; and two, that he has died unexpectedly (and, annoyingly, before she has a chance to confront him about his secret identity and dump him). Fleeing to Berlin for reasons that are unclear even to herself, she embarks on her own campaign of dissimulation, recreating herself again and again for the people she meets.

Whether she’s a freelance chartered accountant with a suspiciously poor grasp of tax law, or a massage therapist with a calling for acupuncture, she analyses every encounter with a forensic precision that’s equally profound as it is narcissistic. The result is a disorientating portrait of a person who doesn’t exist except as a character she’s trying on for size and will discard without hesitation.

This unvarnished, unflinching portrait of millennial womanhood is so frank as to be sometimes shocking, but Oyler’s grasp of the modern world and those who inhabit it is extraordinarily witty, wry, and oh so incisive. Fake Accounts is perfect for fans of Sarai Walker, Kristen Roupenian or Patricia Lockwood.


Lian Hingee is the Readings Digital Marketing Manager.

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