Tuesday, January 31, 2006

James Frey ...

Doreen is surprised that I haven't used this space to rant about James Frey, he of "A Million Little Pieces," the man who lied in his memoir, the man who took his lumps on Oprah's couch.

She's surprised because I used this space, months ago, to give Mitch Albom what for when he was found out in his fabrications. I was livid then.

I'm not livid now.

"Lying is lying," Doreen said this morning in an IM.

And that is true.

But it's different.

Lying in your memoirs may be wrong. It may be stupid. It may be misleading. But it's personal. James Frey lied about himself.

Mitch Albom lied about other people. Lied about where they were, lied about what they wore. Lied about where he was, too.

I used to work for newspapers, still write for some from time to time. I still think what Mitch did was reprehensible, and can't believe he didn't get more than a slap on the wrist.

As for James Frey, his reputation is now shit. He says he won't write a book to capitalize on his shameful unmasking. How noble. As if another publisher will want to take him on. But I say, "Write it. If it will help you, write it. If a publisher will buy it, sell it. If a reader will buy it, let them. And then donate the money to Oprah's Angel Network or some other charity. A literacy group or an organization that helps kids get off drugs."

But then, remember Jayson Blair? He wrote "Burning Down My Master's House" and nobody read it. Because once you lie to your audience, why would they every believe another thing you have to say?

2 Comments:

Blogger Marc said...

Let's not forget that Frey originally shopped the book as a work of fiction - a novel based on a true story. He reworked it into a "memoir" on the advice of his publisher. Lying? Sure, but quite a bit less severe than fictionalizing a news account.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lie in print is a lie in print. In fact, a lie is a lie. That's part of the problem of the culture in this country these days ... we try to parse the truth and come up with various degrees of truth (I think Mr. Colbert has called it "truthiness"). Frey's readers were just as betrayed as Blair's readers.

2:26 PM  

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