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Gary Younge
Novel twist in tale of journalist who made up stories

Now the story of Stephen Glass, the 25-year-old who was fired from the New Republic magazine in 1998 after his tall tales came to light, is about to take another twist.

Having passed off fiction as fact, Glass is set to turn fact into fiction, with the release of a novel based on his experience at the centre of the chaos wrought by his own yarns.

Publishing house Simon & Schuster has told bookshops that The Fabulist, a novel written by Glass, is "a rollicking, riveting tour de force that does for the media business what Primary Colours did for politics."

The book, which will be released next week, is a first person account of an ambitious young journalist called Stephen who works for a Washington-based weekly which espouses a similar political position to the New Republic. Like Glass, who is now a law-school graduate, the protagonist not only makes up stories but also the notes and voicemail messages to back them up.

"While this novel was inspired by certain events in my life, it does not recount the actual events of my life," writes Glass in an author's note, according to the New York Times. He adds: "This book is a work of fiction, a fabrication and this time an admitted one." Glass also expresses regret for his "misconduct" and "the pain it caused".

Glass was found out after a website editor tried to trace one of the sources he quoted in an article he had written about computer hackers. Gradually it became apparent that nothing in the article was true.

When the editor of New Republic was alerted, he began to investigate other articles Glass had written and discovered that many did not stand up. To throw the fact-checkers off his scent, Glass had invented websites for them to visit and, in one case, had given his brother's cellphone number as the contact for a fictional company. When the number was dialled, a message claiming to be from the company was played.

A film of his story, Shattered Glass, is to be released in the autumn.

Lions Gate entertainment, which made the film, describes it is an unflattering, unauthorised account of Glass's experiences.

The book provides an insight into the motivations behind Glass's desire to invent rather than report.

"I wanted to be recognised as having written a great article, not just a good one but an exceptional one," Glass writes.

"For me lying had become more than a vice or a comfort or a habit or the easiest thing to do: it had begun to seem vital."

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