Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Question 2

Recently there has been some rumblings about James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. Smoking Gun suggests that much of Frey's memoir is fabricated, made-up hooey. If this is indeed true ... does it affect how you feel about the book and/or your experience in reading it?

Also ... it's a memoir, not an autobiography ... "A memoir is how one remembers one's own life," ... "while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked." Does that mean one can embellish the truth and change facts to make for a better read?

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/jamesfrey/0104061jamesfrey1.html

24 Comments:

At 6:46 PM , Anonymous Jeff Meyerson said...

P, I read a lot of memoirs and I know you can't take them as gospel truth. I'm constantly amazed at how people supposedly remember every freaking detail of something that happened 50 years ago, down to what everyone was wearing and exact conversations.

Frey, however, has clearly crossed a line, not by embellishing what an evil miscreant he supposedly was, but by insisting it is all completely and demonstrably true when it isn't. Period.

I've read about 1/3 of the book so far and will eventually get around to the rest. I never regarded what he told us so far as documentary (a bunch of it was too far fetched), but how I regard him and his book will have to wait until I finish it.

So, does it affect how I feel about the book? Probably. It definitely affects how I feel about Frey.

 
At 6:48 PM , Blogger Tamara said...

Well, I read most of the Smoking Gun article. He's definitely a fibber.

But I don't really care if most of what he said was fiction. What matters to me is... Is the asshole really even still sober?

 
At 8:43 PM , Blogger Polly P.I. said...

I personally feel like he should not have called this a memoir. It's fiction with himself as the star character.

In my writing I try very hard to stay within the bounds of truth. That said, I do change certain details to protect the innocent...or not so innocent. Might be a physical description. Always names. Sometimes locations. But the general gist of what I write is true.

So to answer your question, I WOULD be disappointed if I read something touting itself as a memoir that was not.

That said, I haven't read this book yet. There are obviously thing in it that are worthwhile if OPRAH and her HARPO GANG were bawling over it.

 
At 9:20 PM , Blogger Higgy said...

TCMH has read this, and thought it was fiction to begin with! Knowing that it's somewhat untrue didn't change her feelings about the book or author.

I think if you're going to embellish, then as Polly says, label it fiction and be done with it. To do otherwise is dishonest, IMHO.

I haven't read this and don't plan on it.

 
At 9:45 PM , Blogger Slyeyes said...

I haven't read it, but I recently heard him being interviewed by Matt Lauer. Actually, it was a repeat of an interview from over a year ago. He mentioned that at one point, he stopped writing the book so he could take time to review what he'd done as he wanted to make sure he got it all correct. Lauer asked him if it was all true. He said it was all true.

It sounds like he wrote a good story, but as he was touting it as true, I've no interest in reading it.

 
At 10:07 PM , Blogger punky said...

If he really did embellish as much as smoking gun is claiming ... then he sucks ...

I loved the book. I read it at a time when I was dealing with emotions for which I was unprepared. The way he wrote about his emotions and what he went through - true or not true - made me feel less panicked, less crazy and more at peace with the emotionally chaos that was my life at the time.

For that reason alone, I will always love the book.

He, on the other hand, sucks. Again, that's if he did in fact embellish and lie.

Bastard.

 
At 10:21 PM , Blogger Tamara said...

In the Smoking Gun report, they found that when he initially began sending out the manuscript to publishers, he was trying to sell it AS FICTION. No one wanted it. Until he changed that single detail.

But, he wrote about being a scoundrel, and he really is a scoundrel.

My motto: People don't change.
And people always prove me right. ;)

But if he's not really even sober and still telling people they can achieve sobriety without AA, then he sucks donkeys. Get that man a sobriety test!

...We may not know until he dies and we check his liver.

 
At 11:49 PM , Blogger Kafaleni said...

I have no problem with him writing a book and selling it as a book. Selling it as a memoir when it apparently is not even in the same general vicinity as the truth is what would bug me.

To be fair, I haven't read the book and had no plans to read it, until it was recently recommended. I think I'm going to leave it now. It doesn't sound much like my style of reading, anyway.

When I read the TSG article, I realised that the book would have sent up flags for me anyway. I have yet to meet a recovered addict (including my brother) who remembers the days of their addiction with as much clarity (down to the colour of his vomit) that Frey claims he can.

My brother pulled himself together and I'm so proud of him. Yes, he did it without AA, or NA or any of their cronies, but he used a lot of the same principles and had a lot of friend and family support. He was held accountable, and he's lived and grown beyond that time in his life now. He knows what he's got and where he's going, but there are 6 years or so that are a total blur to him. At least D is honest about it all. He'll tell you he can't remember crap-all and he'll tell you why, but he won't embellish, and he won't lie about it.

James Frey has lost any respect that I could have had for him.

 
At 11:50 PM , Blogger Graz said...

Embellishment is a pitfall of storytelling....whether the story is "true" or make-believe. If you take 10 people and have exactly them in exactly the same place at the same time and someone walks in, throws a glass against the wall and leaves you will get 10 different stories...and those 10 stories will change a year from now. Perception and recall are on a slippery slope that gets worse the farther you get from the happening that is being remembered.

That being said, this guy is probably someone who figured out a good way to peddle his book was to swear that his embellishments were 100% the truth. If he stayed reasonably in the general area of the truth, then no foul. If he just made a bunch of crap up and is pawning it off as gospel, then he's a cretin and an asshat.

By the way, I'm now looking for publisher of my "memoir" of the time when Kate Beckinsale seduced me in the backseat of my AMC Pacer. This happened after she stole me away from Liv Tyler at that party at the Chuckie Cheese's.

 
At 8:56 AM , Blogger punky said...

graz ... I totally remember that night! You looked hawt! And Liv was totally distraught. But I couldn't realy console her because Josh Lucas was sucking on my neck and distracting me. And then I had his baby. Or I think that's what happened ... it's a few years back and a little fuzzy ... but it's the truth. I swear on my Momma's bottle of whiskey.

See ... it's easy. Everyone give it a shot!

 
At 9:42 AM , Blogger Leetie said...

I'm disappointed that this is all coming out just as I am reading the book!!! But Punky said that it was really good, so I downl-- I mean, acquired a copy. ;)
I'm enjoying it so far, but worry how all the hubbub will affect my feelings at the end.

Off-topic, but Jeff, your comment above sparked a thought in my head (ouch!):

I'm constantly amazed at how people supposedly remember every freaking detail of something that happened 50 years ago, down to what everyone was wearing and exact conversations.

If I am not mistaken, the very first book of the New Testament was written approximately 50 years after Jesus' death. I don't want to start any religious controversy on Punky's blog, but since we're talking about embellishments... Hmmmmmmmm ?

 
At 10:01 AM , Blogger punky said...

Oh no you didn't, Leetie.

*hides under desk*

just kidding. I have faith that the people who post on this blog are capable of having a good debate without insulting each other ... I can't say they won't make a voodoo doll of you and poke you in the buttcheek if you say something bad ... but whatever ... it's all fun and games. :) Pin the tail on the bloglit voodoo doll.

Carry on.

I think someone mentioned something about James Frey writing the bible ...

 
At 10:14 AM , Blogger Leetie said...

Now THAT's funny! ;D

 
At 10:16 AM , Blogger Tamara said...

If I am not mistaken, the very first book of the New Testament was written approximately 50 years after Jesus' death.

YES YES YES YES YES YES! OH! OH! OH! OH! YYYYYESSSS!!

Erm. I have, um, strong feelings on the subject.

But I don't talk about them. I've already said too much.

wryoleg - You wry ol' leg!

 
At 1:18 PM , Blogger Leetie said...

Tamara, I don't think I've ever pleased another woman so fully. ;)

 
At 2:02 PM , Blogger Tamara said...

Mmmm, Leetielicious! ;)

twsqnz- Tamawa's questions

 
At 4:07 PM , Anonymous ArcticAl said...

I agree with Graz. Your memories are subject to change over time and in most causes, different people will remember the same thing differently from what actually happened. I don'thave a problem with autobiographers not getting it perfect if that is what they believe to be true. I do have a problem if they concsciously change it to make it more exciting or to make a point. Than it becomes fiction.

I haven't read the book by the way and don't have any current intentio to read it. Am I missing something special?

 
At 4:09 PM , Anonymous ArcticAl said...

Tamara do you have something to share with us?

 
At 5:18 PM , Blogger Slyeyes said...

This just in ---- I just heard that the publisher is offering FULL REFUNDS on the book.

 
At 5:23 PM , Blogger Slyeyes said...

Slight correction; the refunds are only offered to people who bought the book directly from Random House; and the original receipt is needed. And how many people usually do that, and then still have the receipt?

The publishers did suggest that those who bought it at a book store try to return it there.

(I'm picturing Dave's comment here about returning his new book to the bookstore if it doesn't make you rich.)

fsuzkc - I agree.

 
At 5:29 PM , Blogger Kafaleni said...

covering their asses, Leets.

I wonder if I could borrow a copy from the library and get a refund from the publisher? This is going to cost them big-time.

*has no comment on the Bible - I have no intention to start a war*

Punky.. can I run my new memoir synopsis by you?

I've gotten hold of some of Gregory Peck's DNA, and I'm recreating him as a ooh... approximately 35 yr old so I can have lustful and bestselling adventures with him and his cabinboys Antonio Banderas and Pierce Brosnan.

Do you think it might make the best seller list? I could throw in Brad Pitt (not for myself.. but you're welcome to him..) if you think it would help the sales vs veracity quotient

youukwle - I what? Never in my life! Unless it would sell a few more copies, then yes, of course I did it.

 
At 9:45 PM , Blogger Sarah O. said...

Oh, heck, he may even be lying when he said he wrote the dang book. I mean, it's a good story told well, so do I care that it may be somewhat fictional? No.

Besides, I bought the book for its cool cover.

Now, if you don't mind, I really should go because Brad Pitt, Pierce Brosnan and Antonio Banderas are fighting over me in my kitchen.

 
At 4:05 AM , Blogger Kafaleni said...

mmmmmm .. there had better be at least jello, preferrably mud involved, scat. Can I help clean them up when you're finished? I promise to use lots of soap and take a long time..

znfrsxd.. well, it ends in sexed, so it's probably about me.

 
At 7:28 PM , Anonymous Bismuth said...

One and only one comment about the bible

The writers of the New Testament had been telling the stories contained within it daily from the time of their occurrence up until they commited them to writing.

Could they have changed? Most likely, but were they drastically different? Probably not.

Now the Old Testament is a whole 'nother story. People who follow that to the word scare me.

 

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