Jan 30, 2006

Truth

I haven't read James Frey's 'A Million Little Pieces'. I haven't had any real desire to do so, that is until now. I've read many a story about drug addiction as well as known many recovering and practicing drug addicts. Their stories are sometimes spectacular and often times harrowing.

As you are probably aware James Frey's memoirs have been called into question because of it's inaccuracies. Many readers claim they felt betrayed by the author's creative liberties. Book reviewers, journalists, and other media professionals are now thrusting the story into the limelight while a lot of the public is calling for Frey's crucifixion.

Now there's Oprah. Yes you regular reader(s) may note that I'm not a big fan of hers nor do I understand how she's reached the status of a deity amongst many daytime television viewers. Oprah placed his book on her famous book club list. After the allegations of "fraud" the queen of superficial television brought him on her show for an interview. She decided to berate him for lying to the public and scold him like he was a child. She claimed she felt duped by his exaggerated claims, such as the fact he wrote he spent 89 days in jail when in reality he only spent a few hours. Throughout the interview she talked down to him with a holier than thou approach.

"I have been in television since I was 19 years old, and I have never been in this position," she said at the outset of the program. "To everyone who has challenged me on" the subject of the book's veracity, she later admitted, "you are absolutely right." To Frey, Winfrey said, "It is difficult for me to talk to you because I really feel duped ... but more importantly I feel that you betrayed millions of readers."

My parents were conservative folk, but some of the remnants of the counter culture remained with them while they raised me. One of life's lesson they reminded me of over and over again was to not believe everything you read.

Drug addiction is a serious issue and many feel passionate about stories such as Frey's; however I can't understand all these thoughts of betrayal. Autobiographies are more fiction than fact. We are viewing the person's life through an extremely limited perspective and should always take them with a grain of salt. Most readers should know this. Why then did they take Frey's writings so seriously? He's just one man recounting his experience. As I understand it he never brought in anyone else's opinion on his recovery.

Take for example a story of your past you might tell. Then ask a friend who was present to tell the story. Do you find little or often times huge inaccuracies between the two narrations?

Mick Foley, a pro wrestler, did a book tour years ago promoting his autobiography. He stated on every stop that he felt the publishing industry was far more fake than pro wrestling could even try to be. That's saying quite a bit people.

The first time I came across such blatant lies in memoirs came with the book Satan's Underground. My parent's bought a copy of it and had it lying around so one day I picked it up. It was a woman's account with Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) and how she struggled to live a somewhat normal life after the horrific tales she told. The book goes on to give a somewhat vague account of a huge network of devil worshippers involved in child porn, prostitution, and infanticide. This book was widely praised by many high ranking Christian publishers such as Hal Lindsey. Even as a 15 year old I questioned some of the accountings in the book as events seemed to be changed for dramatic purposes, but the overall story I thought was valid. The author was prominately displayed on TV talking about the supposed widespread SRA including the infamous Geraldo show where he "investigated" SRA.

Years later I came across an article in Cornerstone magazine, a Christian publication, which investigated her claims and found them to be entirely false. After interviewing her family and friends they found that most of the claims could've never happened and that she was mentally ill. After the SRA scare died down and the FBI couldn't find any evidence of a vast conspiracy her star faded thankfully. The witch hunt that developed from her book was truly amazing.

Now all these whiny people who sit there and complain about Frey's book should know better. Oprah is in no position to make someone feel shitty for falsifying information. If we believe everything she told us we would only assume that her weight loss plan(s) work and it's important to follow celebrity culture.

I am curious to see if the book sales actually go up because of all this publicity.

"Autobiography is probably the most respectable form of lying." - Humphrey Carpenter

Oprah Confronts Author James Frey

3 comments:

CitySoul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CitySoul said...

where is my comment?

Wiwille said...

Citysould - I thought you deleted them. Well everyone here's Citysoul's take on my post:

I have to say I like Oprah, I think James also did a little more than exaggerate in a few situations...he lied about most of it...all made up. Knowing a few drug addicts, they usually don't like to make their life worse than is was. But hey, I don't think he'll lose any money now...any publicity is good publicity, right?