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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sweet Little Lies

by Jay Allbritton
I read James Frey's A Million Little Pieces in October and I loved it. Now the news media has erupted over the claims that Frey embellished elements of his story.

The media calling James Frey a liar broke my irony detector. I guess if anything, Frey's "lies" weren't big enough. Have you read any of the Reagan memoirs or Clinton's? I have. Now there's fiction. Doesn't the media have much bigger liars to fry than Frey? Last I heard we still have not found the WMD in Iraq.

Frey wrote a damn good book with a damn good sequel. One of its central ideas is that you don't need religion to get your shit together. That kind of message will make you a target these days. So who knows who's lying?

If Frey embellished, it wasn't about the fact that he was very sick and managed to get well against long odds. As a writer I recognize the function of Frey's embellishments. He did it to make the abstract concrete. For example, instead of writing, "You have no idea how bad I felt." Instead he writes, "I had a root canal without Novocain." Even if we never had a root canal, we know that a root canal without Novocain is hardcore. So is beating a deeply rooted addiction.


matt clark, friend said...

you know there is actually a rumor going around that when he first tried to sell his book to publishers he wanted it marked as a novel. unfortunately for him memoirs are HOT right now. the only publisher that would pick it up wanted to push it as so. too bad for him. but really there isnt much else for the news to cover right now. i mean so what if a future supreme court judge joined an organization that fought to keep women and non-white out of princeton... oh wait he put that on his resume but didnt remember going to any of their meetings... theres some embellishment. you know my teachers always told me you have to pump up your resume a little. i mean he was trying to get a job with the reagan administration, can you blame him.

Station Agent said...

Yeah, what's setting civil rights back a few decades when you can get a guy in there that will always rule in favor of the deadlier gun or the weathier corperation?

As for Frey, all I know is if someone told me they would publish my shit as a memoir and that was the only way, I would go, um okay. He lied, but he lied for the twenty grand advance, not the multi-millions that he accidentally made when Opera stuck her meddling nose in his life.

And it is a very good book either way.

annie said...

you're right on j.
most of the book is steady thought streams, emotions running through his head: "want need want need i want need enough to kill annihilate make me lose make me forget.." the way he's able to convey his emotions provides me with enough evidence that this is his life. he lived it and these were his own real feelings spilled out onto the pages. there is no disputing that. it's also the primary reason people loved the book. who cares about his arrest records?

Station Agent said...

Welcome to the Station--no just kidding. Hey, I can't believe this shit. Why did it have to be Frey involved in such a crap story. I really hopes he lets loose at some point about this bull shit. He should wait a while though or he'll look defensive. Man life is so stupid these days.

stacy sedai said...

my friend frey: "if there's a bottle that could put me in my grave, it's this bottle i have saved." (Damn Personals, fruit fly)

how could someone ~not~ be shattered by a million little pieces?

Station Agent said...

Seems like the harshest critics of Frey are the ones who didn't read the book.

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