Thursday, January 12, 2006


Author and memoir embellisher James Frey's publisher announced that Mr. Honesty will be adding a note to future editions of his partially fictional work A Million Little Pieces.

Probably too much to hope that Frey's author note will say something like "Hey, in this book? Sometimes I'm lying to you", right?

While Frey was admitting to his latest wrongdoings on Larry King's TV show, Oprah Winfrey called in to tell Frey that she still supports him and his novel, and evidently blames the publisher for bad categorization. It's always those pesky meddling publishers. But now I'm wondering, how would one correctly categorize Frey's novel? As alternative history?


  1. I've not read his book, and probably won't, but now I wonder if his most basic assertion is true . . . was he even a drug addict? You know you've entered the surreal world when my historical fiction has more veracity than his memoir . . .

  2. Did you catch Tim Carvell's funny op-ed piece in the New York Times, A Million Little Corrections?


    "I feel that none of the slight liberties I took in writing my memoir really affect the overall work, but nonetheless, you should know a few things:

    I am not, in fact, black.

    Nor am I, to the best of my knowledge, a woman. "

    NYT will make you set up a password/username, but this bit is worth it. Carvell's a writer for The Daily Show. 'Nuff said.

  3. From what I've read of it - not much, I admit - I'd categorise it as "in desperate need of a good edit, some lessons in basic grammar and repairs to that stuck shift key he seems to have".

    Then I'd categorise it as something else.

  4. Anonymous8:00 AM

    Maybe we can create a new genre: "Stuff that isn't quite real, isn't quite false, and probably needed another year or two with Strunk's"?

  5. Scott, I'm sure you know more about what was going on in Memnon's brain than Frey knows about his own.

  6. I don't care what it's categorized as, and I don't care if Oprah says this guys okay. I still feel massively lied to. Yesterday, while I was waiting at the kids' lessons, a woman was reading the book and all I could think of is how now even more copies will sell thanks to this broohaha. The guy's a cheat and a liar, as far as I'm concerned.

  7. "Alternative history" is so PC (and SF, for that matter, which works once you read his memoirs of writing the memoirs and find out that the original draft of AMLP contained a detailed account of how he defeated the Slimy Slugs for Glaxon 7 with a paperclip and Mentos). Perhaps "revisionist history" is better.

  8. Anonymous7:43 AM

    This is a marketing problem and nothing more.

    Why is it that no one ever accused Henry Miller or Charles Bukowski of "lying" in their books? Because they wrote fictional versions of their own lives -- which is exactly what Frey has done.


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