I didn’t really expect this book to be so riveting, but it really was. The central idea is a bit shaky, because Lynda Pyne’s definition of “genuine fakes” is very, very elastic: one example is lab-created diamonds, another is the Spanish Forger’s faked medieval illustrations, another is the faked Archaeoraptor fossil… The things that make each item “genuine” or “fake” are pretty flexible. The reasoning is most solid when it comes to art like the Spanish Forger’s work, which has now become desirable in and of itself. The reasoning for the Archaeoraptor fossil is basically “well, it’s made up of real fossils!” Yeah, who cares, those fossils have been ripped from their original correct context in a desperate attempt to deceive people and get more money. That’s not a genuine fake, that’s just a fake.
And then there’s a bit about wildlife documentaries and how they’re kind of fake (sometimes, depending on how they’re filmed) and kind of not, and the point kind of dissipated somewhere in there for a while in favour of just explaining how much money it takes to create a documentary like Blue Planet II.
That all said, though, even if Pyne’s examples don’t all hang together, I enjoyed her dissection of each item and the things it has to tell us. I didn’t know anything about the Spanish Forger before, and that was maybe my favourite thing to learn about. Interesting stuff here, just… not really very organised.