Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blood Will Out: The True Story Of A Murder, A Mystery, And A Masquerade by Walter Kirn

Blood Will Out is about Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter (AKA Clark Rockefeller) a life-long impostor who deceives some people into believing he is an eccentric Rockefeller heir of aristocracy and wealth – that is until he is outed as a poser when he is arrested, tried and convicted of murder. This story is pretty interesting.

Blood Will Out is also about author Walter Kirn, a midwesterner from humble origins, whose own desperate ambition seems just a couple of moral notches above that of Gerharstreiter/Rockefeller. Kern goes to extreme effort to meet Clark Rockefeller just because he is a Rockefeller, and befriends him for 15 years prior to the revelation that he is a con artist. Kirn then ends up chronicling Rockefeller/ Gerhartsreiter murder trial, all the while pondering in disbelief his own gullibility. Now this story is VERY interesting.

Kirn is obsessed, to the point of blindness, with the fake Rockefeller, whose falsehood is clear it seems to everyone but Kirn. Attending Rockefeller’s murder trial, Kirn reflects back on his years of friendship and alternately ponders the possibility that it is all just a big misunderstanding, and how he could have been so thoroughly duped. What is most fascinating about this book is that Kirn clearly wanted to be duped. Rockefeller claimed to have never eaten a hamburger, had gone to Yale at 14, was a friend of Britney Spears, and to have a master key to all of the buildings in Rockefeller Center. (Kirn and Gerharstreiter/Rockefeller pictured)

Kirn is probably best known for his books, Up In The Air and Thumbsucker, both of which were made into movies.  But an earlier memoir, Lost in the Meritocracy, is the story of his “gift for mimicking authority figures and playing back to them their own ideas as though they were conclusions I’d reached myself.” The irony here is just so thick. “My fraudulence,” writes Kirn, “was in a way the truest thing about me. It represented ambition, longing, need. It sprung from the deepest chambers of my soul.” And almost in the next breath, Kirn complains that Rockefeller’s affect on him was ‘Galilean.’ "It humbled me. It reoriented everything. It revealed to me the size and power of my ignorance and vanity."   

I recommend that you read Blood Will Out because it is a spooky, well-written study of two irrational, yet intriguing characters, both living on the fringes of sanity, and both imprisoned by their delusions of grandeur.

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