Monday, January 09, 2006

Million Little Suspicions

Ah, a good-old fashioned literary scandal. The Smoking Gun (and others) has questioned the veracity of James Frey's Oprah-canonized drug addiction memoir, "A Million Little Pieces."

I personally was never able to read it once I heard it included dare-you-to-read-it scenes like one in which he undergoes a root canal without anesthesia, so I can't comment on the books, but The Smoking Gun lays out what looks like an amazingly thorough case. Frey's non-response is here. There's also a Metafilter discussion here, and a hilarious book review here.

11 comments:

Jennifer said...

Uh, the "non-response" link goes to an Amazon link of another book altogether.

Mrs. Harridan said...

I haven't read it, but was considering doing so until I heard about how contrived and obviously made-up it was. Is Oprah a complete moron? Wait - don't answer that. I'm forgetting this is the woman who popularized _The Bridges of Madison County_.

I was in the midst of the TSG article when I saw your post. James Frey sounds like rather an ass in addition to being a liar.

That review is scathing and a complete riot!

Gael said...

Jennifer: It's the right link, so I don't know what to tell you. It's not loading now for me (Frey's site could be overwhelmed), but even mousing over it I can see it doesn't go to Amazon, unless he's redirecting his home page.

Anonymous said...

The book was amazing. I grew up with my father being an alcoholic, and reading this book took me back to those days. There is no way that this book is a hoax. How could someone write something like that if they didn't go through it. I think everyone here just really needs to stop looking at this book as a farse and look at it as a true life situation that millions of americans are going through. More times then not, this isn't the out come. If you haven't read the book, read it and then pass judgement. The book that follows is " My Friend Leonard ".

How would all of you feel if you spilled your guts to an entire country and then people started questioning if you were being honest about it. GROW UP PEOPLE!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous who posted at 10:28 am:

I sympathize with your situation. Truly, I do.

In light of your real experience, however, what response do you have to the fact that someone actually tried looking up the public records for the events described in Frey's book -- and found that the actual public record contradicted his story? You actually did live those experiences -- what is your response to someone who has been proven to have PRETENDED to have them just to be popular?

No one is casting doubt on the author just because they don't like him. They are coming forward because someone checked his story and found that it was fake -- and can prove it. I know at least a couple people with stories like yours, people who actually HAVE struggled with alcoholism and addiction, who are absolutely livid with Frey for falsifying his record; may I ask why you have chosen to defend him, in light of the proven public record which disputes his claims?

Queencallipygos on Livejournal

Maggie said...

You know, I feel kind of like a jerk for saying this. Both this and the J.T. LeRoy hubbub didn't really surprise me at all. I haven't read any of their books because even the initial reviews/press seemed too fantastic (in the true sense of the word.) In both those cases I think the authors saw the trend of horrific personal memoirs and decided to capitalize it, even if they themselves did not live any kind of remarkably awful life.

That old saw continues to hold true: if it sounds like something's too good to be true, it probably is.

Anonymous said...

I read the smoking gun report. They didn't really say he had falsified the whole thing, just that it was embellished.

I am reading the book right now, and I have found it to be quite compelling, regardless of the truthfullness of the account.

There are people that I walk past to get to work every morning that are addicts and that are in rough shape, this book has maybe me think more about them as people than as "scum" and for that I am glad that I found the book.

Anonymous said...

I think they've done a pretty good job of proving that he lied about certain things, and I'm glad the story is meaningful to people regardless, but...if he has lied, and tried to pass off his little "embellishments" as genuine, painful experiences--I'm sorry, but he's a scam artist and deserves to be called on it. It's disrespectful of his audience (in a "the idiot public will never question this" sort of way), for one thing, and it saddens but me a little that a lot of people will just shrug that off.

pj in penticton said...

Embellishments are fine. Fiction is great. But don't wildly exaggerate the events and present them as absolute truth. His mistake was lying about his past, not exaggerating it. He could have a career writing fiction, but he needs to develop a moral compass. As I noted before, this is the same as "Mutant Message Down Under" -- a work of fiction presented as truth. This author chose to paint himself as an intimidating badass, not the meek polite wimp he is. Paging Walter Mitty...

Meredith said...

I agree with the last comment. There's a reason why they separate the fiction from the non-fiction. It could be that Frey is a good *fiction* writer, but it seems more than a little underhanded to "embellish" as he apparently did.

Anonymous said...

He could not even have a career writing fiction. Page after page of dialogue with NO descriptions at all is crappy writing. It's important to know where the conversation is taking place, how each character sits or stands, what they do with their hands, how their facial expression coordinates, or not, with what they're saying, and so forth. And the dialogue itself is not powerful enough to stand on its own. The book belongs in the same gutter that Frey is NOT familiar with.