Friday, January 27, 2006

"Frey's other addiction"

Maureen Ryan blogs at the Chicago Tribune:
By now, we all know that James Frey has been treated for drug and alcohol addictions.

That’s seems to be the one aspect of his “memoir,” “A Million Little Pieces,” that has not been disputed.

But what’s Frey going to do about his addiction to lying?

..."I still think it’s a memoir,” he whined at one point (and let’s face it, this big guy with the tough guy/hard case reputation came off on Thursday’s “Oprah” like Eddie Haskell put on the spot by the Beaver’s mom).

Really? It’s still a memoir? Well, that would require defining “memoir” as “thing I made up to make boatloads of cash.” If that’s the definition of the genre, I’m going to have to take a break from blogging to pen my memoirs about the career I had as a cross-dressing pirate before becoming the queen of Romania...

Frankly, Frey didn't give the impression of a man hooked on Step 4 of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which directs those who wish to conquer their addictions to make "a searching and fearless moral inventory" of themselves.


Blogger Donna said...

Hi Shrinkette:

We are told in AA to "be honest in all our affairs."

I guess Frey didn't learn that, either.

8:05 PM  
Blogger jw said...

We lovers of the sea spent many a happy hour reading Tristan Jones. Now that he's dead, we find that most of his stories never happened.

Well? They're still great sea stories and I for one have spent many happy hours reading Jones.

A Million ... is still a good read!

What does truth have to do with good prose?

2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What does truth have to do with good prose?" Well, a lot if you're marketing something as fact when it's actually fiction. It's called false advertising. Don't tell me something is true if it's not. I would not have purchased it as fiction.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

They say that the truth is stranger than fiction. What do we say when nonfiction is a lie? For me, that someone would be so desparate as to sell their lie as the truth for the sake of fame and money is stranger than the strangest truth.

jw: if fiction is advertised as truth, then the damage is great indeed. The fiction author may invent false situations and not have it taken as a roadmap for living. The writer of nonfiction, particularly when it purports to be the record of the struggles of one who is mentally ill, must be completly truthful, especially about his representations as to the veracity of his claims or experiences.

It seems to me that this fellow has done major damage: he has, among other things, brought the claims of others who have really suffered into dispute. He has placed upon recovering addicts the terrible burden of having to live up to his lie, especially since they did not do as much as he did.

The idea that you should be silent about your suffering because X suffered more and came out of it is one of the most terrible blocks against compassion and recovery that can be placed in an addict or other ill person's path. Frey feeds this cop-out that the unafflicted like to slap the addict and the mentally ill with.

Finally, it encourages us to lie. I call this a lie because it represents itself as truth when it is not. Fiction by definition does not do so. Therefore it qualifies as a ~tale~.

Once again, you are trying to sell us the sketch of a horse as if it were a horse.

Anonymous: There's no need for you to hide your identity. You are right and there's no shame in that.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Fallen Angels said...

The really interesting part of this is that some people WOULD have purchased the book had it been marketed as fiction. I might have.


6:04 AM  
Blogger Omnibus Driver said...

Frey would never have been stuck on Step 4 -- he rejected the 12 Step/AA program entirely in the book. The James character in the book is narcissistic. The James in real life is, too.

(But the book is still a hell of a good read.)

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sera, I agree some would have purchased the book even as fiction, however, I would not have (nor would I have given one to a friend as a gift). If I had read the book knowing that it was made up and that he was full of it, it would not have been nearly as interesting. (Maybe that's why he couldn't get it published as fiction - there's a lot of people like me out there?) In fact, I was in the middle of the sequel when this all came out. I never finished the book because I kept rolling my eyes at every other sentence - I started saying yeah he's full of it here and here and here...kind of takes away from the story...when there IS no story.

6:56 PM  
Blogger Rowena Hullfire said...

Frey took it to the publisher as a novel. The publisher decided it would be marketed as a memoir because memoirs sell better. *harumph*

10:34 AM  

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