The fiction of Peter Carey is peopled by the unhallowed; by ghosts and the ghostly. In Bliss (1981), Carey presents us with the Dantesque trials of an advertising executive after he has a heart attack on his front lawn. In The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994), phantom nations are inhabited by simulacra. In True History of the Kelly Gang (2001), a dead bushranger talks. Carey's My Life as a Fake (2003), the subject of this essay, gives us an apotheosis of this literary habit of bringing the unliving to life. It presents us with the flesh-and-blood, machete-wielding, gladiatorial figure of Bob McCorkle, a poet created as a literary hoax.