Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I Swore I Wasn't Going to Post About This!

But, really, who are we kidding? This has been bugging the crap out of me. James Frey. Oprah Winfrey. A Million Little Pieces.

I keep thinking if I talk about that lying little sack of poo, it only serves to give him more publicity. I read the first few chapters of the book weeks and weeks ago (before all the hoopla), and found it to be poorly written and ill-conceived, even for a memoir. As a work of fiction, it's like a bad rip-off of Go Ask Alice.

I have been stewing about it for a couple of weeks. The talk all over my MFA program forums is frightening. "Beautiful, man. He was totally playing with genre." And (from an instructor, no less), "What difference does it make? Everybody lies." And from the fiction writers: "Gee, golly, but we make shit up all the time." You're FICTION writers, you idiots!!!! The moral turpitude that is alive and well and living in the American literary community is breathtaking. No wonder this generation's literary claims to fame are the Jayson Blairs and the Judith Millers and the James Freys of the world. One creative non-fiction instructor, Hope Edelman, redeemed the entire program for me, though, with her post on Huffington Post.

But I found a website that has given me an outlet for my anger. It's called James Frey Owes Me Money. I wrote my letter to James last night, and we'll see if it makes the cut there. If it does, I'll link to it here. If it doesn't, I'll post the whole thing. Not all the posts are anti-Frey, but there are enough there to make me realize that I am not alone in the world. People out there do recognize that he is a liar and a fraud and an otherwise not-nice human being, and aren't afraid to tell him so in public.

So, keep your fingers crossed that my letter makes the site, so I can finally have some closure.

~C~

Update: My letter to James was indeed posted on the website, and here's the link.

6 comments:

  1. Phew~~ no more nature-- just back to the normal "men are liars"--just like the real world!! I feel safe here!

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  2. Don't get too comfy, girl... I still have three more journal entries.

    :)

    ~C~

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  3. Being submerged in production and not having come up for air, save to get my news from Jon Stewart... I'm not quite sure who this guy is and what he lied about. I got a snippet of the Oprah interview... so I know he embellished the method of someone's suicide or something. But who IS this guy and why is anyone interested in his memoir? (OR more properly worded: why WERE people interested in it before he got all the bad press?)

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  4. As to who James Frey is, if you go to the website, there's a link, kind of hidden in plain sight in the Title Box, called "Who is James Frey?" This will tell you all you need to know, as long as you're registered with NY Times. For those who aren't, the abridged version is this, in short... This guy pretends to write a harrowing memoir about his battles with addiction that nearly killed him, the girl he loved whom he couldn't save from suicide because he was supposedly in jail while she was killing herself, the horrendous train wreck he was involved in where two of his classmates died which supposedly propelled him down the path of addiction...

    Except... none of it ever happened. He had a drug problem, but there was never a girl who committed suicide, he never served any seriously lengthy time incarcerated, and though the train wreck did in fact happen, it didn't in fact happen to him. These were among the many, many little spun tales that Mr. Frey passed off as his life.

    I do realize that no memoir is 100% factual -- because everyone has his or her own interpretation of what happened to them and why. But I seriously doubt that James Frey simply forgot he wasn't in that train wreck. I don't think he forgot he never this suicidal girlfriend. He deliberatly set out to write a book making himself into some kind of bad-ass drug user, who was really kind of a skinny wimp with no integrity.

    That's James Frey in a nutshell -- click the link on the site to get the dirty, lowdown details. Also, if you search Smoking Gun, you'll find a huge article that details all his little made-up idiocies.

    As a mediocre writer, he gives mediocre writers everywhere a bad name.

    ~C~

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  5. See, this is what happens when you proofread AFTER you post (and you don't have Haloscan). I was going to pull the post and correct and repost it, but, you know what. I'm leaving it, spelling errors, typos and all.

    It's my homage to James Frey -- in a language I'm sure he'll understand.

    ~C~

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  6. Ha, love your letter Catharine. It's great. Especially the part at the end where you basically say hey thanks for giving me hope that any old crap can actually get published. That seriously cracked me up. A good writer-to-writer dig that he'd really understand.

    I've come to the point in my life where I see an Oprah label on a book and keep on walkin'. I have put down at least 5 books unfinished that have her stamp of approval on them, and this is coming from someone who always finishes every book. She picks books I hate, even by authors I love. Barbara Kingsolver, for example. I love everything that woman ever wrote - except for that Poisonwood thing that Oprah raved about. Eh, go figure.

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