Towards the end of Will Self's recent meditation on "other people's nether garments" ("Garment District", NYT 8/26/2008), he writes:
Mal had on a suit of blue denim that made him look like an aging sociology lecturer at the Sorbonne, the type who conducts fraudulent anecdotes of mixing Molotov cocktails with Guy Debord during les evenements of ’68. [emphasis added]
When I read this, I took it for a word-substitution error, with "conducts" swapped for "concocts". But in the 90 comments posted so far on the NYT site, no one else mentioned this possible malapropism. In contrast, when Bill Poser wrote about an article "entitled 'Barriers that are steep and linguistic'", he was quickly incorrected in the comments section.
There are a couple of differences here. First, Bill's "entitled", though in continuous use since Chaucer, is a common prescriptivist bugbear; and second, LL readers may on average be more focused on proofreading than NYT readers are. (Well, another factor might be that Bill set up his target in the first sentence of a 500-word post about languages of the Caucasus, while Self's sentence was at the end of 1700-odd words about his reactions to hiking and bicycling shorts on Mt. Ventoux. And to comment on Self's "conducts fraudulent anecdotes", you'd have to make it past a number of other linguistic curiosities, like "the fructals of a juniper", which introduces a word new to the OED and to Merriam-Webster's Unabridged.)
But still, what would it mean to conduct an anecdote, fraudulent or otherwise? In order to conduct an anecdote as you conduct an orchestra, the anecdote would have to have many independently-operating parts that you coordinate in real time. I do know people who tell stories that way, but somehow I doubt that Self had this in mind. Alternatively, you could try to conduct an anecdote in the sense that you conduct clinical trials, or public hearings, or military operations, or a formal interview.
No, none of these really make sense to me. I bet he meant "concoct".
[To avoid misunderstanding, I should state explicitly that I'm not objecting to Self's self-conscious and explicit coinage of "fructals" to refer (I guess) to what are usually called juniper "berries" or "cones". I'm just noting that this may well be the first time that this word has been used in an English-language publication (other than as a brand name, or a quotation in Slovenian, etc.), and that it's one of a number of striking linguistic features that occur earlier in Self's article.]