Monday, January 09, 2006

Down With Fabulists

If you haven't yet seen this incomparable full-scale demolition of James Frey's credibility, go to it. Frey is the Oprah-approved author of the bestselling nonfiction memoir A Million Little Pieces, words that aptly describe the state of Frey's reputation now that this is out.

Frey's book is an apologetic memoir of his days as a raging drug addict and incarcerated criminal. His life, he claims, was deeply affected by the tragic death of a close friend in a train accident. Turns out, Frey never spent more than a few hours in jail and had no connection to the victim of a well-known train accident that he has appropriated and distorted for his own dramatic purposes. Along the way, he appears to have made up scores of little lies to fill out his tale as a bad boy who turned his life around.

The article, which must be five or six thousands words long, is actually a model of the form. The commentary is but lightly snide and never digressive. Here's to The Smoking Gun!


Ralphie said...

Countdown begins until he claims his work is fake but accurate.

Anonymous said...

This is good news because anything that paints Oprah as a hack it good.

Bill Walsh said...

Man, ridiculous. Preppie remakes himself as bad-ass loser. And what's up with that semi-literate style complete with Seventeenth-Century Capitalization?

Didn't anyone get the sense that he was Trying A Little Too Hard? I mean, I know there are a lot of college graduates who can't write, but that guy's pretending to be the Crazy Dude Who Lives Under the Bridge Abutment With A Bloody Crowbar.


miklos rosza said...

I read a couple of memoirs lately, just to see if I was missing anything. Sean Wilsey, Elizabeth Wurtzel, and some woman whose mother now lives on the streets of Manhattan (I've forgotten her name).

I got the distinct impression in all three that a lot was airbrushed -- that is, the alleged truth was fiction -- and it was strange how they all ended up glossing over the connections that got them their big publishing deals. Life seemed to end with getting into college.

"I was a poor little rich kid, pity me pity me... and then gee whiz I was on the staff of the New Yorker."

Well, playing the victim card will get you onto Oprah. James Frey has mouthed off a lot about great he is, how he has all this street cred etcetera etcetera. Supposedly his manuscript was first marketed as a novel and didn't catch on.

I hate it when I see "based on a true story" in the opening credits of a film. Not least because, just as in Frey's case, this kind of stuff just means you have a license to lie.