Wednesday, January 11, 2006

On Frey

Previously on this blog I have shouted the praises of James Frey and his memoir A Million Little Pieces. At the time, I was enthralled the book, thinking it was a fantastic read. Now allegations have come against Frey suggesting that parts of the book may be fictionalized. So I should be conflicted and dislike the book, right?


So the nerds at The Smoking Gun took the time to analyze the book to death and found discrepancies. If you put any piece of non-fiction literature up to a heavy microscopic and study it, you will find huge problems. It's the nature of the medium. Truth is not a constant, so it's impossible for a person to always be truthful about themselves. The event did happen, and whether or not Frey embellished it, it did happen to him.

I was killed by Colin in a debate over this. Unfortunately as Colin sometimes does, he nailed me with a point that I couldn't rebut because I didn't have the right information in front of me. He claimed that James Frey has conceded the point to The Smoking Gun. Indeed, Frey has not conceded anything. Frey wrote on his website ""I stand by my book, and my life, and I won't dignify this bullshit with any sort of further response." Doesn't sound like much of a concession to me. You made some really great points, but this one was wrong. Please don't lower my grade Colin.

I also apparently sound crazy on the radio.


Anonymous said...

The point of "Colin" wasn't Frey's website comments, but his remarks to The Smoking Gun in their interviews, in which he admits that their side of the story (he being in jail for several hours and paying a fine rather than, say, staying for three months) was the correct one. The article was long, but it's in there.

Colin said...

Colin said...

whoops. the above is a link to your boy on CNN with the literary icon larry king. check him out. he sort of acknowledges the bullshit problem. and sort of doesn't.
let your readers draw their own conclusions, i say.

Brett said...

Yeah, in retrospect I feel kind of silly. However, I do find it reasonably confusing that TSG admist they couldn't get an interview with Frey and then says they spoke with him and he admitted to the problem. Fishy.

Mattyd said...

This is all very good news for me. I've had a couple friends try to get me to read this book, which hasn't appealed to me at all. I'm always distrustful of anything that receives too much praise. Now i can just dismiss it was a farce.

Coffey0072 said...

I've not read the book myself. In any event, it's a given that a lot of writers who pen their own memoirs or exploits of any sort, take poetic license. How far you decide to embellish becomes the big issue.
It seems that Mr. Frey decided to distort the details of his life, perhaps not anticipating becoming a member of Oprah's esteemed book club.
Not taking anything away from Frey and not "hating" on him either, but I think I'll take a pass.
I usually do, whenever I see Oprah's ubiquitous book club stamp prominently displayed on the cover of any book.

Mattyd said...

I know what you mean about that dreaded Oprah Book Club stamp. I can't stand it. I happen to like Toni Morrison a lot, but I hate the fact that she sucks up to Oprah as often as she does.

Do you remember what happened to Jonathan Franzen when his novel, The Correctons, was chosen for Oprah's book club? Read about it here: