"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Thursday, January 12, 2006 Did you even READ the book?
That's my question for all the people who are acting as if the revelation that James Frey either embellished or plain made up pieces of his bestselling book, A Million Little Pieces, is the most shocking coverup this side of Gordon Liddy.
I've read the book. I stayed up 'till nearly 2 am Monday night reading it because a friend of Robin's needed to borrow it for her bookclub. I loved it. It's a great read, incredibly entertaining, riveting, wildly intense and powerful. It's one of those books that gives you weird dreams if you read it before bed. The prose is so pervasively unique that you find yourself thinking like he writes. There are parts of it through which you cringe so hard that you get muscle cramps.
For those of you who don't know, it's a first-person story of someone who is addicted to about everything except Pop Rocks who goes through drug rehab. He is a self-confessed "alcoholic, drug addict and a criminal" and it is his story of what it was like to return from that abyss.
You probably wouldn't have heard of it except Oprah annointed it a month or so back, which is the literary equivalent of the miracle of the loaves and fishes for book sales. Now TheSmokingGun.com has done some background checking and it seems that some of the legal problems he describes as him getting into might not be true at all.
To the people who are getting all sanctimonious about this, I have just one question:
Did you even READ the book?
In addition to being an "alcoholic, drug addict and criminal" (and, perhaps most damning, a former Hollywood screenwriter), if the description of himself in his book is even half-true, he is also a belligerent, self-serving, egotistical, stubborn, damn-everyone-else-and-screw-the-world-I'll-do-what-I want-to-do asshole.
It doesn't exactly stretch the limits of human imagination that he might be a liar, too.
Think about it. You're this kind of guy to begin with. You're trying to get a novel published and the publishing house says it would sell better as a memoir (which in many ways it already is) and asks you to truth it up and resubmit it. Do you:
A-- tell the absolute truth and make the book a lot less attractive B -- say "$@*#^$& off, this is my art, I'll find someone who will appreciate it." C -- change a few things that really don't matter and give it back to the publishing house and get a fat check!
Hmmmm ... which one of these would James Frey do. Well, it wouldn't be out of character to do B -- but he obviously didn't do that -- so it's between A and C. Which is the more likely ... let me see. Which would be more in character for this guy ... let me see.
Now, admittedly, that it purports to be a true story (names changed to protect whomever he felt like protecting) makes it more powerful -- so I'm not going to say that it absolutely doesn't matter. And yeah, people might feel somewhat embarrassed if they, like I did, told people that they had to read this book "and the best thing about it is ... it's true!" But get over it!
My point is that why are people acting like this is a big surprise. James Frey is laughing all the way to the bank ... and the only reason I imagine he is trying to cover his ass at all instead of saying "gotcha suckers!" is that he's got a movie deal coming, another book deal and he's playing the PR game so the gravy train doesn't stop.
Of course, the most hysterical -- and most pathetic -- thing about it is WHO is making the big stink. The 24-hour pseudonews networks and infotainment industry -- an industry that LIVES on half-truths and notruths -- is acting as judge, jury and executioner. Yes, the industry that gives us the "True Hollywood Story" and "Geraldo Rivera Presents..." is acting like a sacrilege the level of someone peeing on the Mona Lisa has taken place.
I'm shocked! Shocked that there is gambling here at Rick's!
Here are your winnings, sir.
I still think people should read A Million Little Pieces. It's a great read, and odds are that it is a pretty accurate picture of what some really hard-core people go through in rehab. At worst, it would scare me away from anything I might get addicted to.
But to everyone who is offended and outraged...
Seriously, did you even READ the book? And if you did ... can you really say you're surprised?
| Mike at 1/12/2006 05:26:00 PM
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which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
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it will be irrelevant."