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The Page Turner Of The Year

Turned in by none other than The Smoking Gun. Ordinarily associated with digging up rap sheets and arrest records of interest, today they combine that with an investigation into the author of "A Million Little Pieces," James Frey. Frey's supposed nonfiction memoir of his years as an alcoholic, drug addict, and criminal, was gushed over by none other than Oprah Winfrey when she made the paperback version of Frey's first book her Oprah's Book Club selection in October.

Here's what TSG has to say about Frey's past:

Police reports, court records, interviews with law enforcement personnel, and other sources have put the lie to many key sections of Frey's book. The 36-year-old author, these documents and interviews show, wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw "wanted in three states."

In addition to these rap sheet creations, Frey also invented a role for himself in a deadly train accident that cost the lives of two female high school students. In what may be his book's most crass flight from reality, Frey remarkably appropriates and manipulates details of the incident so he can falsely portray himself as the tragedy's third victim.

This section from an interview with blogger Claire Zulkey should have been a heads up to anyone wondering how 100% true Frey's 100% true story actually was.
Speaking of memoirs, are there any autobiographies or memoirs that you're particularly fond of?

I love Charles Baudelaire. I love Celine and Henry Miller. I love Charles Bukowski and Pat Conroy and Tim O'Brien and Brett Easton Ellis. None of these guys actually wrote memoirs, but they all wrote about themselves. Though I used my real name, I consider my work in the same tradition.

Citing Brett Easton Ellis as an influence for memoir writing says just about everything you need to know about Frey erstwhile nonfiction books...

Comments (9)

OPRAH represents the Wikipe... (Below threshold)

OPRAH represents the Wikipedia of literary insight.

It's the one-dimensional, third grade intensity of writing between the great big blue lines with the giant pencils and, oh, careful-not-to-tear-the-newprint level of insight that television and many internet users actually need in these busy-oh-so-busybusy-days.


And, you know, if it's not ... (Below threshold)

And, you know, if it's not in Wikipedia, it just can't be true! +infinite-exclamation-points.

And, thus, if Oprah SAYS it, it just has to be true!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everyone else must be aslee... (Below threshold)

Everyone else must be asleep in our world this night, to contribute more to the intrigue of theme here...so, I'll comment more.

Brett Easton Ellis has always been extremely depressing to me, such that, I could not cohabitate with any of his 'books' in my home -- it's that complete a revulsion by me as to some sort of ulterior-something that affiliates with him as person and author that I find, literally, odorous.

I finally completed reading that expose article from thesmokinggun -- very well written, by the way -- and conclude that Oprah, publisher, are willing participants in the Frey ruse. I note that the material wasn't considered worthy of publication if it was identified as "fiction" and thus, there's both the awareness that it WAS fiction in that statement and the procedure to deceive as to genre in the act of publishing.

All fiction is real to the extent that the writer 'believes' what he's writing but the personality driven personna works of false presentation lack curiosity, are mere coarseness. I admit it: I do not understand the appeal to females, said to be in thesmokinggun as the majority of readers for Frey's 'works,' and yet I hope they will grow out of whatever it is that is appealing about the books.

Oprah, on the other hand, seems more merchant of misleadment than anything.

Hmmm.Frankly I avo... (Below threshold)


Frankly I avoid autobiographies. It's a rare person that can write about himself with any honesty.

A little birdie told me, th... (Below threshold)

A little birdie told me, that when in the mix (smoking crack, hanging out with others who do same). That one does not carry a microcassette voice recorder, and pen and paper. Making/taking notes in preparation for a literary retelling of the joys of rockin' it up.

My favorite part of the Jam... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

My favorite part of the James Frey story is how he peddled the book as fiction and had no takers. Only when it became his "memoirs" was anyone interested. Apparently, some publishers are among the dumbest people on the planet.

I read Frey's book right wh... (Below threshold)

I read Frey's book right when it came out. It reminded me of Papillon -- if you've ever read Papillon (as opposed to watching the movie), you'll realize quickly that it's clever and inventive, but bullshit nonetheless.

Similarly, Frey's book didn't pass the laugh test. Frey was always staring down people and defeating him with his will. It was funny after a while.

You have to give him credit, though. He published his book, and he knew that to really sell a book you need to create a literary persona, which he did masterfully. Now he's rich and famous. And for being a bullshitter. Nice work if you can get it.

Who knows if anyone will re... (Below threshold)

Who knows if anyone will read this at this later date...but now Frey is saying his writings represent the "truth" and Oprah is saying ignore the complaints as to incredulity, the guy's at least recovered.

He may have "recovered" someWHAT, but he's obviously not recovered enough to any point of mental clarity, defying the concept of "sobriety" by most standards.

Even the publisher acknowledges that the book is fiction, yet marketed it as "truth" to sell more product.


B.S. aside isn't a memoire ... (Below threshold)

B.S. aside isn't a memoire a recolection of events the way it appeared to you at the time it happens?.Exagerated or not anyone who claims never having falsified or enhanced any of their life's story or experiences for the sake of making theselves feel important. To me is the very description of insecurity and eagerness to please. And we've all been guilty of it at some point in our life. So let it fly... those of you who do not live in glass houses.






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