George Clooney hitting on Walter Kirn’s girlfriend might have been the most interesting story this Minnesota boy could tell until he met “Clark Rockefeller.” “I lived in Marine on St. Croix and Shafer, which is right outside of Taylors Falls, where I went to high school,” Kirn said via e-mail. Now a Montana resident, the journalist and successful author’s latest book, “Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade,” is about his friendship with a murderous grifter it took years for authorities to identify as Christian Gerhartsreiter. While Kirn was fooled by Gerhartsreiter’s colossal con job, I give him credit for this: I think he figured out charming Clooney. Kirn got to watch the then-confirmed married-once-but-never-again actor on the set of “Up in the Air,” a movie based on a Kirn novel.
Q: Since this is an e-mail Q&A, how should I confirm that you are Walter Kirn?
A: You’re just going to have to take my word for it. Society operates on faith, chiefly because it saves time and it’s less work. To verify the identity of everyone we come into contact with in our daily lives … wouldn’t be practical. [Since I don’t have such faith, I wanted to hear Kirn’s voice to determine if he sounded like the guy I saw in a TV interview. He did.]
Q: Has your BS detector ever failed as monumentally as it did during your time with your friend the con man and killer?
A: Given my experience with “Rockefeller,” I’m not sure I have an operational BS detector. I’ve always been a sucker for a good story, and not all good stories are true. What I hate even more than being deceived is being bored, I’ve learned. But sometimes amusement comes at a high price.
Q: Because of this deception, are you less trusting?
A: The person I most distrust now is myself. But yes, I’m too suspicious of others at times, particularly of those I meet over the Internet.
Q: For some reason, creepy guys are not as obvious to other men as they are to women. Did any of the women in your life who met “Clark Rockefeller” think something was not quite right?
A: My ex-wife, Maggie McGuane, seemed less enchanted by “Clark” than I was. She told me more than once that he was full of it. I, too, thought he was full of it occasionally, but that didn’t make him a total fake, I thought, just an insecure exaggerator. I spend a lot of time with other writers, so that’s a personality profile I’m used to.
Q: Is there a hole in Christian Gerhartsreiter’s heart or is he just crazy?
A: He has no heart for there to be a hole in.
Q: Are you and George Clooney on speaking terms after he hit on your girlfriend while on the movie set?