“Identity has always been a fragile phenomenon”: The Truth? About Hayward Kreiger

SlaterAfter our class discussion last week, I was curious about whether or not Dr. Hayward Kreiger (the philosopher who supposedly wrote the introduction for Lying) was real. So, as I always do when I question the authenticity of an introduction in a highly-contested memoir, I turned to Google.

This is what I found: a New York Times Book Review journalist, wondering the same thing, called the University of California to inquire about Dr. Krieger and found that there was no such person. Then, a few weeks later, that same journalist received a handwritten letter from—who else?—Dr. Kreiger. The letter states, “Identity has always been a fragile phenomenon, but that it now rests upon the report of overworked operators at a university switchboard is perturbing, and we should all beware.” According to the letter, Dr. Kreiger had simply left the university. But here’s the real kicker: the return address on the letter was for the clinic Slater worked at, and the phone number listed under Dr. Kreiger’s contact info belonged to Slater’s husband.

So….sounds like Slater’s making a joke of the whole thing, right? It certainly seems that way—at least to me. But, when the director of Random House (which published Lying) suggested that the whole letter was a publicity ploy, this was her response:

“Publicity? I am shocked. I can’t believe anyone would say that. I know it is hard to believe me, but I am being totally honest with you—I just thought that letter was very, very funny. I was sure that whoever gets it at the time would think Lauren Slater is immature and throw it away. You have got to believe me.”

I don’t know what to believe anymore.

One thought on ““Identity has always been a fragile phenomenon”: The Truth? About Hayward Kreiger

  1. Katie Soares

    The lengths at which Lauren Slater is going to sort of astounds me. I think I actually hope the letter was a publicity stunt–that would make much more sense to me. She cant help but perpetuate and create even more questions about what and how things exist through this Krieger thing. This letter mirrors the format of her book, it is a lie but it has the clues necessary to establish it as a lie–the clinic address that she works for and the phone number obviously incriminate her as Krieger. In some respects, I’m not frustrated at her for this, just amused that she can send such a tongue in cheek reply about her own unreliable narrator self. The article also notes that she is going to have another work of non-fiction about her pregnancy on prescription drugs, which is interestingly just another topic about herself in an altered state.

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