James Frey--A Million Lies?!
I will admit that I've been following this James Frey story quite closely for a number of reasons. He is the author of the book "A Million Little Pieces" that Oprah Winfrey helped put on the bestseller list. His book is a memoir, but The Smoking Gun website recently exposed many of his claims or stories in the book as clearly being "untruths." I happen to believe that a memoir should stick as close to the truth as the author can reasonably recall, and that it is the author's full responsibility to be as honest as possible at all times. In other words, this guy deserves to be raked over the coals, taken to the cleaners, tarred and feathered, (insert additional cliches).
The New York Times has published a number of articles on this subject. I read the entire (and extremely lengthy) article on The Smoking Gun site a few days ago, too. One of Frey's claims in the book is that he spent three months in prison, when it turns out he really only spent about five hours behind bars (or at least no more than 24 hours). I would personally say that this is a pretty flagrant lie. Even someone with a relatively bad memory would know whether they spent three months or five hours in prison. There's a significant difference. He also said he drove his car into a cop who was standing on a sidewalk and then incited a riot, neither of which really seems to have happened.
Basically, I think this guy is just a sick con artist trying to stroke his own ego and get rich in the process. He calls his website "Big Jim Industries." Somebody gave me a copy of his book a while ago because I went through some similar experiences in my youth (I even spent one night in jail, which it turns out might have been longer than Frey truthfully spent himself).
I started reading his book once, but I could never get past the opening page. Here's why--he starts by describing himself as being in the back of an airplane and feeling his face. This is when he discovers, "My front four teeth are gone. I have a hole in my cheek, my nose is broken and my eyes are swollen nearly shut." He also discovers that his clothes are covered in "spit, snot, urine, vomit and blood." He calls over a flight attendant who tells him, "a Doctor and two men" brought him onto the plane. Would a doctor really put a patient with four front teeth missing, a hole in his cheek, and a newly broken nose on a plane and just leave him there unattended, apparently with no bandages or treatment of any kind? Wouldn't a "hole in my cheek" cause a ton of blood and scare the crap out of the other passengers? If I was a pilot, I sure wouldn't let a guy in that shape board my aircraft. It is a dramatic opening, but it doesn't seem plausible in the real world.
I went through something like this myself once, only it was just a badly swollen right eye and some glass in my forehead (from the windshield of my car). A police officer took me to a clinic where a doctor treated my wounds first, and then I was escorted to jail. They sure as heck didn't put me on an airplane. It just makes no sense. I'm surprised Oprah thought this was such a great book. She should go back to choosing the classics like Faulkner.
Of course it is easy for me to say all of this now that the guy has already been exposed. It also turns out that his original manuscript was rejected by 17 publishers when he tried to publish it as fiction. Then Nan Talese's house picked it up as long as it could be published as a "memoir." So in a way I can see how it happened. He was just a struggling writer trying to earn a living, and he probably assumed that even if it did get published, it would never get so much attention, and therefore he would never be exposed as a liar and a fraud. Whoops. Link