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The Crack Magazine


The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas

Daniel James, Dead Ink

Ezra Maas is one of the most significant artists of the 20thcentury, winning a whole raft of awards and critical acclaim. An enigmatic figure he is often likened to JD Salinger due to his reclusive nature. He is also entirely fictional. This novel – the debut from local author Daniel James – might initially put you in mind of William Boyd’s ‘Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960’, a book in which the Scottish author pranked several art world ponces who believed Tate to be a real person. This book, however, is a much more ambitious affair than Boyd’s rather slight effort. Here we get chunks of biographical detail on Maas, as well as an account of Daniel James’ investigations into his life (“Daniel James” the character, rather than Daniel James the author), as well as oral histories, transcripts and more. The whole noir-ish tale is pulled down several rabbit holes and viewed through multiple halls of mirrors and comes over like a literary equivalent of Orson Welles’ ‘F is for Fake’. Which is a very good thing.