We’ve all been following the story on The Morning News for months. But now Glorious Noise has made a startling discovery about the real-life true story behind Gary Benchley, Rock Star….
Glorious Noise has discovered that the popular serialized story, “Gary Benchley, Rock Star” on The Morning News is to be published as a novel by Plume Books. According to Amazon the 256-page paperback will be available on September 27, 2005 with a list price of $14. And in case anybody was still unsure, it’s listed under the category of “Fiction – General,” not “Biographies & Memoirs.” The author, after all, is not Gary Benchley, the 23-year-old immigrant to New York, but rather…Paul Ford.
So who is this Paul Ford, and what is he doing writing a book about our hero, Gary Benchley?
Well, a little Googling turned up a few clues. There is a Paul Ford who frequently contributed to The Morning News, where the Benchley serial has been running. His bio blurb on The Morning News tells us he “lives in Brooklyn” and that he “writes Ftrain.” From this evidence, I think it’s safe to assume that this is indeed the Paul Ford we’re looking for.
If you’re still not convinced—and hey, we all wanted to believe that Benchley was real—we see that Ftrain describes itself as “the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms.” While never specifically mentioned on Ftrain, I think we’re all familiar with one of those pseudonyms. Right?
So what does this all mean? Does this make the Benchley story any less compelling? Maybe a little. We were all rooting for this kid from Albany. But come on. If you hadn’t figured out that it was just a story by the time Schizopolis got signed to their label, you’re kind of slow. Sorry, but you are.
This whole deal sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it? Of course it does. It’s a standard literary device to trick the reader into believing that a story is true. It was used most recently in a similar, serialized online format in The Daily Adventures of Mixerman. Remember those? We all wanted to believe that Bitchslap was a real band. Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita also pretends to be the uncovered secret diaries of Humbert Humbert. So this is nothing new.
But will knowing this affect how much you enjoy the Benchley story? If the quality of a work of fiction is contingent on the reader believing it to be a true story, then it’s not a very solid work of fiction. I’ve still been enjoying the Benchley stuff even after I realized it was made up, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to the characters. But it’s a lot easier for most people to care about real people than it is to care about fictional characters. So maybe I don’t care quite as much as I did at the beginning when it was possible to still believe. I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see…
In the meanwhile, if you’re interested in finding out more about Paul Ford, you should explore Ftrain, which is full of interesting articles and biographical information and cool links. If you want to hear Gary Benchley’s voice—well, you know what I mean—you can stream some audio of pieces Ford made for NPR like this one he did on Bit Torrent files. There’s also an interview in Gothamist that covers a lot of what he’s up to.
And for the record, I did attempt to contact Paul Ford regarding this issue. He would neither confirm nor deny whether he is in fact Gary Benchley, rock star.