Out of the Freying pan.....

Friday, January 27, 2006

As anyone who regularly pops in here knows, I’m all about keeping things laidback on this blog. Pretty much stay clear of controversy/rants, etc. I deal with enough crap in real life. This place is for fun/chillin’, with the odd thoughtful post thrown in. But I’m gonna post my thoughts on the above book, its writer, and the ensuing shit-storm of controversy surrounding them.

I think I'm in the minority on this subject. Or maybe the "silent" majority? I read the book when it first came out. Loved it. It's on my keeper shelf.

While I'm not condoning his lying--let me repeat that: I’m Not Condoning Mr. Frey’s Dishonesty--It's a great book. I don't feel cheated finding out it isn't all true. Don't care. Doesn’t lessen the impact of the story/writing. If I'd bought it knowing it was pure fiction (or just embellished truth, as the author claims) it wouldn't have made a difference in the impact the story had on me. Finding out now, hasn't tarnish the reading experience, for me. Really good fictional protagonists (and their trials/adventures) often touch the heart/disturb the mind. They stay with you, years later. The ‘James Frey’ character from A Million Little Pieces has stayed with me. I didn’t read for research. I read for entertainment, and peek into another world/psyche, whatever. But I got what I paid for. /End story.

My problem with the current situation, is not whether or not his lying is being condoned/or not. We can all agree lying is wrong. /End story. I just don't understand why it's garnered such (inter)national outrage. <--That’s all in bolds for a reason, folks. It's like the publishing version of the Brad/Angelina/Jennifer show. Two years weeks later and... there's just got to be more important news/issues/situations out there for people to get riled up about. I'm genuinely surprised at all the never-ending frenzy of outrage. Over a book. (Not a textbook, or a front page expose news article, or a Congressional Report, or proposed amendment to the Constitution, or a spiel on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A book.)

With Salman Rushdie, I get why (certain factions of) Muslims could take strong offence, or how some devote Catholics are offended by the premise of The Da Vinci Code. (Not to say I agree or disagree with their stance, just that I _understand_ the 'why' behind their *passionate* response.)

Yes. He lied. His publisher lied. I get it. Bad Author. This *off-the-scale* response to the Frey revelations? I don't get. I think this is more about resenting the power/influence Oprah has in making a bestseller, than about his 'lying'. There was probably already a bit of ‘does he really deserve that good fortune?' (from writers & non-writers alike) involved before the dirty linen was aired. Mr. Frey should have just ‘fessed up when first confronted with the truth; at least by now we’d all be back to wondering if Angelina is going to have natural childbirth or deliver by C-section, or some other earth shattering concern.....

Even if I'd hated the book, the whole issue has had it's 15 mins of fame, doncha think? That's my point. I mean, two Oprah shows, Larry King, and god knows how many national news outlets/stories/articles, etc, later? (Nevermind the blogosphere.) Really? Over this? Think I'll check out what Michael K is chatting about on DListed.
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Jordan Summers said...

I think you're right about the Oprah thing. I also think it has a lot to do with this whole environment of political correctness. No one can lie unless you're in the government. *ggg*

CindyS said...

I had to go and look up memoir to make sure I understood. Would the world say an author is lying if they told their story the way they remembered it only to have a whole bunch of people come out and say it happened differently? Memories are personal and how someone perceives something is unique.

That said, I know Frey did more than that. He out right lied and I guess people were telling Oprah she sucked for sticking up for him.

Whatever. I did not read the book so can't comment on the emotions that were raised. I thought it was ridiculous when Oprah asked about Lilly and how she really died. Uh, she killed herself. Does it matter if she was hung or slit her wrists? Apparently it did for Oprah.

Ah well. Oprah got burned by what romance readers and writers and any genre learns early on. Sometimes the label is wrong ;)

You think they'll let this drop now? Of course the other interesting thing was that Frey had tried to get it published as fiction but was rejected.


raine said...

There had to be 2 Oprah shows (the last one to clean up her image). And since there were 2 Oprah shows, there had to be Larry King, and the other shows to tell us what happened on the Oprah show & then on the King show, etc., etc...

I think Frey's a shit. But yeah, it's been blown way out of proportion. It's the American way. ;-)

I'm waiting for the memoir about what happened after we found out the memoir wasn't a memoir.

Jaye said...

Jordan, the more I think about the more I believe the bruhaha is because of Oprah.

When I bought the book a couple of years ago, it didn't have the Oprah seal (of course) but across the top of the cover it had 'Nation Bestseller' (yeah, whatever that meant. heh) with a couple of pages in the front of the book loaded with reviews from various mags/newspapers--and I don't mean Buttpick Township Oracle, either. Several NY newsrags, plus mags like ELLE, DETAILS, GQ, etc carry pretty positive reviews. He was getting major national exposure.

Also, when I bought the book, it was also showcased prominently at the front of the bookstore (in Canada) in the 'recommended reading' section (yeah, the publisher probably bought the co-op space, but stil...).

I guess what I'm saying is, he wasn't doing too badly on sales with the book. While many may not have heard about him/the book, it's not like Oprah plucked him out of obscurity. Which may be the impression lots of folks have...

Jaye said...

Cindy, I think that's part of why this hasn't fazed me that much. A memoir is clearly based on 'memory', which we know is a faulty thing. Nevermind he was remembering things from a time when he was recovering from drug & alcohol abuse. So I was already taking what he wrote with a big pinch of salt.

Again, not condoning his lying, just pointing out why I didn't feel this monumental sense of betrayal a bunch of people claim they did.

Ahh, back to Oprah. See, when Oprah first came out and said that the story still had relevance, emotional strength and many other attributes that folks should be focusing on rather than he lied, Lied, LIED! LIIIAAAAARRRRRRR!! etc., I believe she was speaking honestly. Not just because it jivves with my personal bias, but I've seen this *quiet* sort of response elsewhere, from people who had read the book. They enjoyed it. They've expressed their disappointment (not in a rending of garments type way) that Mr. Frey lied, but overall they still say it's a beautifully moving story and well-written.

I see rumblings that Oprah's about face as more to do with saving face. Her own. I didn't watch the the second show, nor the first, but while a number of people enjoyed watching her rip Frey a new one. Others were sickened by the spectacle. They turned the show off. Aparently Salon has an article up where they say Oprah went too far. And a recent Forbes (online) article pretty much connected Oprah's change of tune with the negative feedback she was getting after supporting/defending Frey on the King show.

Hmmm. How did I get to Oprah? Because I still contend this is mainly about her, and not Frey's lies. Taking a sideways step here, do people get this riled up about 'unauthorized biographies'? How many times have lawsuits been brought, and charges of unsubstantiated rumours printed as fact, etc happened because of those types of books. Yet, I still can't remember a kerfuffle of this magnitude happening. Or the writer/author being quite so vilified.

Jaye said...

Yah know, I promised myself, I was gonna post this thing and then shut up, once I got it off my chest. If folks wanted to comment they could. If they didn't. No worries. I wasn't going to post reponses, yet here I am... lol.

Raine, while he did do a shitty thing, he's not a shit. Just my opinion.

Nothing is clear cut black and white. (See the Oprah thing above: some are saying- 'you go girl, take that lying bastard down.' Others are seeing it as purely an excercise in ego/face saving).

His publisher (agent?) clearly had some hand in this also. Mr. Frey had tried to publish the book as fiction, and was told they wouldn't buy it presented as such.... I think the cross Mr. Frey is being nailed to is way too big for his sins.

LOL @ "...the memoir about what happened after we found out the memoir wasn't a memoir."

Amie Stuart said...

I think you make a VERY valid point about the whole Oprah thing (and about the book doing well without her "stamp").

I still wonder where his very siilent agent is, but I have to throw this out here...(andf this is not an about face from my post on Raine's blog) I totally see where you're coming from as far as the book itself is concerned.

About four years ago (right after mom died) I read a book by a woman that was later debunked as a work of fiction, though certainly not on this scale. I'm not sure what the final outcome was but I feel the same way about it that you seem to about Frey's book.

Jaye said...

I wonder about the agent's silence too. We've had official statements from the editor and the publisher, but I've read/heard nothing from the agent. ::shrug::

And, yes. The same way you feel about the book read 4 yrs ago, is the way I feel about Frey's book. The revelations are unfortunate, but the book still resonates.

Nicole Reising said...

I sooo agreed with you on this. I keep chuckling about it and even asked my husband if he thought it might have been planned by a very smart man right from the get go -- sales have skyrocketed! What a way to increase your sales! Hilarious if you ask me. And like you said, its not like its changing anything in any of our lifes... why the hoopla? People have too much time on their hands when their making such a big deal out of silly things like this. :) Of course this is just my opinion.

Jaye said...

And there's the irony, Nicole; all the hoopla is just driving "the liar's" sales up. I bet if all the outraged persons thought on that for a split second, they'd STHUDQ. ;-P

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