Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Million Little Pieces Of The Truth Becoming "Stranger" Than Non-Fiction


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It was all originally intended as a book of fiction, and James Frey had, in fact, shopped it to publishers as such for a given amount of time. Then, according to Frey's account of the events, an editor suggested that since he claimed his story was actually a roman à clef based on his own experiences as a one-man demolition squad against law and order i.e., booze, cocaine, mowing down a police officer with his car, numerous arrests -- you name it -- he should consider packaging his work as a tell-all "memoir." Ultimately, Frey did exactly that, and collected a hefty $50, 000 advance for penning his story and what is now an Oprah's Book Club selection titled, A Million Little Pieces. The book sold well, Oprah and her staff were all literally "kept up at night" by what they'd read in this chilling account of Frey's fascinating life, and seemingly, everything was as they say, hunky-dory.

That is, until someone finally asked the question that I, personally, would have been asking from the moment any book was suddenly changed from a fictional account -- to a non-fictional, truer-to-life one:

"How much of it is actually true with the supporting mug shots, police reports, and other documentation to back it up, as opposed to the plain old, everyday brand of *fiction* the author was originally willing to sell to readers in the first place?"

Then, of course, in comes the Smoking Gun website, which asks this question -- along with several others. And, as a result, in the grand tradition of the New York Times' Jayson Blair, bad publicity becomes the best kind of publicity there is, and talks of another hefty advance for a How I Duped The Entire Reading Public tell-all begin to fly. Jeez Louise...gimme a break already.

After this week's hot-topic controversy, which presently has the TV news along with several writers' websites and message boards a-buzzing, as always, it'll be James Who? by this time next week, when life goes on and the world continues to spin around on its axis. Clearly, Random House is maintaining that they're standing by Frey's story, and, I would imagine that it might just have something to do with yesterday when A Million Little Pieces ranked Number One at Amazon.com -- among other things. And therefore, need anyone really say... any more?

In any event, check out more here at the Smoking Gun . And yes, for the record, I also read this book last year, with Frey's claims of undergoing extensive root canal work in his mouth sans the benefit of major or local anesthetics...stopping me dead in my tracks on the old "truth-o-meter." Certainly, just about anyone who has actually experienced root canal work, would wholeheartedly agree with me.

Good Wednesday, all. Peace.

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