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Monday, January 09, 2006

I'm sure those of you who keep up with oddball news have heard by now that James Frey, bestselling author of A Million Little Pieces, is a liar and a charlatan.

This snotty little falsehood is offensive to me in several ways, the most obvious being that HE LIED ABOUT HIS LIFE AND MADE MILLIONS. The other, not-so-obvious ways have more to do with the manner in which he approached the publishing industry and what it means for the rest of us.

Apparently, Frey tried (and failed) to sell his book as fiction in the beginning, with the promise of a better shot at selling AMLP as a memoir tha as a novel. This defies rational thinking for those of us on the outside looking in on an agent's world. It's supposed to be harder to sell nonfiction without an extremely marketable platform than to sell one's first novel, yet here we have someone higher up the food chain instructing Frey to do just that--attempt the nearly impossible. It must have worked for him to be doing so well, but realistically speaking, what are the odds? Especially if he had truly cut out ALL of the fabrications and embellishments and attempted to shovel his mediocre life at the public?

This puts aside Frey's motivations for the moment, as what he did is despicable.

What will this mean for those of us who want to write fictionalized biographies? I think being a severely incapacitated narcoleptic at Harvard who lives in the incestuous world of student-directed theater and lands in jail for protesting at the Republican National Convention is exciting enough to warrant writing a novel, but should I scrap the idea of incorporating bits and pieces of it into a make-believe story and simply write an autobiography?

After this, I just don't know. I certainly don't want to write nonfiction honestly to the best of my ability and learn that every nonfiction author is now considered lying until proven truthful.

If Hollywood doesn't cancel his movie options, I'm going to scream.

1 Comments:

Blogger jason evans said...

Even if we lay aside the problem of guilt, what about shame? How do people like this think they're going to get away with it?

7:33 AM  

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