Caveat Emptor by Ken PerenyiMy rating: Non-Fiction Memoir
I wanted so much to enjoy this book. The story of how someone develops a career as a master art forger really should be an interesting one, but it never quite engaged me.
The book starts with the background, telling the tale of how the author went from being a failure at school to developing friends in the worlds of fine art and petty criminality, by way of endless sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll. This should be fertile ground for anecdote, but unfortunately it's all told in a dry style that left me completely cold. The start of one love affair is even presented as bullet points.
Once Perenyi gets into his artistic stride, there is plenty of detail about the mechanics of faking it, from gesso to varnish, composition to framing. These technical parts were the most interesting to me, as he "discovers" long-lost works by various Dutch, British, and American painters. The sales come easily, almost too easily, and when there's drama it's down to Perenyi's less-competent colleagues. In fact, overall, the forger himself develops into a likeable and down-to-earth businessman - it's just the nature of his business that's unethical.
There were some good parts to this book, but overall, I was disappointed and frequently bored. I wish Perenyi had dedicated as much effort to mimicking literary genius as he did to perfecting the style of the painters he copied.