Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Million Little Pieces

So about a week and a half ago I finished "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey, the brutally honest, beautifully written non-fiction book that turns out now to be not all that honest or non-fictional. As far as I can tell from the internet, TV and radio a lot of the legal problems that he had were hyped up and I'm sure more aspects of it will turn out to be demonstrably false.

It seems he made a faustian deal with himself and his publisher which caught up with him this week and may eventually fuck him. Apparently, Frey had the door slammed in his face 17 times by publishers before his book was accepted (perhaps after a rewrite or two) and was released as a work of non-fiction, against his initial wishes. The book contains no forward, no preface, no disclaimer about artistic license. It just begins with him waking up on a plane with no wallet, four missing teeth and no recollection of what happened or where the plane is heading. That is some gripping shit I have to say and actually true to boot. I took everything he said in the book as the truth, he went on Oprah several times and to many, many book signings and events and said that it was an honest, accurate portrayal of what happened. Even the part about having a double root-canal with no anesthesia, local or otherwise.

It looks like Big Jim kinda fibbed about his legal problems, former arrests and god know what else. The fact of the matter is that I really liked his book, liked the message and I think he's a great freaking writer. The problem is, his whole book is predicated on honesty, total blaring honesty and I took him at his word. If we were friends, I'd clock him one and we'd be cool. As it is, I'm just a reader and the furthest I'll go is to not plunk down $23.99 for his other book.

Laura took it with a grain of salt, much like you would watch an episode of Law and Order based on an actual event. We sparred for a bit over the book and in the end, she was a hell of a lot righter than I was.


eefers said...

I bought this book the night before all this stuff came out about this guy. I haven't opened it yet, but when I do, I'll read it as a novel, or creative non-fiction. How many of us have never embellished a story about our lives? It makes the story better, and the writing better. The fact that he said it was all true sucks, but I spent the money, so I'll read my fictional novel and enjoy it.

John Y said...

I have not read the book. But, I've heard a lot of people were inspired to address their addictions or problems by this book. That's where I think it becomes sad, in that maybe these people will feel cheated, not casual readers or literary enthusiasts. He claims it was a memoir and thus the story is his interpretation of the truth. That's all well and good...until you go on Oprah and tell millions of people, yes this is exactly what happened to me, I survived and overcame it, and you can to. Then you get into lying douche bag, profiteering off the misery of others category. He actually had a follow up episode planned in which he would meet with people who claim his book saved their lives. This was all planned before these truths came to light, and while he was adamant on national TV(Oprah, Today Show, etc.) that every word was the God-given truth. The problem begins in that addicts can be very trusting people when trying to climg out of their addiction, but when they find out they've been lied too, any progress predicated upon that lie tends to be discarded and they may fall back into old habits. That's why this should be important and that's why James Frey is a douche bag.

Rose said...

I think with any memoir, you automatically have to accept that people are going to embellish, embroider, and, even if they are trying to be honest, just plain be kind of wrong about the "facts" of their lives. But, as the person above mentioned,Frey didn't just leave it at that, he was willing to expand on these untruths in order to profit, and that is the dick thing.