Lauren Oyler Talks About Deception Online

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Lauren Oyler’s debut novel, “Fake Accounts,” features a nameless narrator who discovers that her boyfriend has a secret life online, where he posts conspiracy theories. The novel is about that discovery, but also more broadly about how the time we spend online — especially on social media — transforms our personalities.

“The book is about various modes of deceit or lying or misdirection, and the ways we deceive each other in various ways, both on the internet and off,” Oyler says on this week’s podcast. “I don’t think that everyone is a liar. But one of the inspirations for this book was watching people interact with each other on social media in a way that I found kind of unbelievable. A lot of what I was doing was trying to understand why you would blatantly lie in public without seeming to believe that anyone would notice.”

Stephen Kearse visits the podcast to discuss the work of Octavia Butler, who “committed her life,” as Kearse recently wrote, “to turning speculative fiction into a home for Black expression.”

But despite Butler’s groundbreaking career, “I wouldn’t want to overstate how different she was,” Kearse says, “because she was very much interested in the things that golden age sci-fi authors were interested in — so, space travel and human extinction and aliens visiting. But I think her innovations were on the level of craft and even just concept. She saw alien stories as very connected to colonization. She saw time travel as escapist. She was able to think about how these tropes rely on certain ideas of privilege and access and really just dive in deeper.”

Also on this week’s episode, Tina Jordan looks back at Book Review history during this year of its 125th anniversary; Elizabeth Harris has news from the publishing world; and Dwight Garner asks questions of Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review and the podcast’s host.

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].

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