Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The real boy's dream shattered-- he's not made out of wood.

Last week, Claire Wolfe blogged about the trail of doubt following behind James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. The Smoking Gun investigative article was incredible to read, and I applaud their exhaustive, thorough reporting.

Wednesday, Jan. 25th, an article ran in the Seattle Times about a lawsuit filed in Seattle's federal court, seeking damages from Frey and his publisher for "lost time." That's right-- the plaintiffs want fellow duped readers to be reimbursed for the time they lost reading his fabricated memoir. Sean O'Conner, a UW law professor is quoted as saying the suit equates a bid for a "legal apology. ... They want Frey and Random House to say, 'This was wrong what we did.' "

This is the third suit filed against Frey and his publishers. Suits have been filed in California and Illinois prior to the Seattle one. In line with our Seattle "do-gooder" attitude, the suit filed here is the only one seeking compensation for readers' lost time.

What I don't quite understand is why anyone took Frey's account as "the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God." Memoirs are ripe for line blurring. This type of writing focuses on a chunk of time in the author's life, often from a time period way in the past, and is written in a narrative style. Unless the author tape recorded her life completely during the period she writes about, and uses that to accurately recount conversations, then at the very least, the reader should expect that the dialogue in the memoir is fudged somewhat. Shit-- I have trouble remembering what I said on the phone ten minutes ago, I certainly couldn't state, "This is a word for word recounting of the conversation I had with my abusive (fill in the blank) 25 years ago." Anyone who bought Frey's line that his book was 100% true is gull-a-bull (Yup, that includes you, too, Oprah).

With that said, Frey went beyond " the names and details have been changed to protect people's identities." He took a grain of rice and tried to make a whole friggin' meal out of it. But it's much more exciting to say you hold the record for blowing the highest blood alcohol level in the county rather than writing about how you drove drunk, plus you were messed up with the chicken pox, and that the local fuzz wanted you the hell out of the station, so you didn't infect other prisoners with it. Oh, and you were only in jail as long as it took your parents to come and pick your sorry, blistered ass up. Frey had to know the jig was completely up when Smoking Gun published his year book photo. How bad-ass can a Spandau Ballet groupie be?

Oprah had Frey on her show today, and he 'fessed up to her.

"This hasn't been a great day for me," he said. "I feel like I came here
and I have been honest with you. I have, you know, essentially admitted to
"Lying," Winfrey interrupted.


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