Saturday, January 28, 2006
Million Little Annoyances
Unless you live under a rock, you have been aware of the media storm surrounding James Frey and his 'memoir' A Million Little Pieces.
Thursday, Mr. Frey appeared on Oprah to discuss the fallout. I say discuss, however, a visibly upset Oprah did most of the talking. Oprah grilled him on every aspect of the book, while he squirmed under the scrutiny. Many times, she would have to ask the question more than once, and drag the answers out of him. And when she was done with Frey, Queen Oprah turned upon his publisher, Random House.
I watched this with the upmost interest, as the entire publishing industry would be affected by this. Like everyone else, I give props to Oprah for going live on national television and admitting she had been duped. (There are other public figures who could follow her example.)
I don't have much sympathy for Mr. Frey. I actually enjoyed watching him duck questions and get called on all the fabrications. Even after he got this hunk of fiction published as the truth, he had ample opportunity to come clean. When Oprah called to tell him his book was picked, when the Smoking Gun report appeared, On Larry King, or even on his own.
As a reader, I rely on the publishers and authors to tell me what is fact and what is not. I do not expect to go into the Biography section and get something fictional.
Look at Carrie Fisher. She writes autobiographical novels. We all know they are BASED on her life, but so much is expanded or embellished. However, we know that most of it is untrue, because they are placed in the fiction section. There were so many ways to avoid all of this.
You also have to take into account how many other writers will feel the consequence of these past few weeks. I am sure there will be great memoirs that will not get published, or authors that won't even get the time of day.