Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Million Little Pieces

A Million Little Pieces (Paperback)

  • I love the cover. I always have.
  • Why does this dude hate quotation marks and indentation so much? Sometimes, I want to cause him bodily harm because I have no idea who is saying what or if it's a thought or a dialog.
  • I understand that he "embellished" certain details. What biographer, auto- or otherwise, doesn't? Does a person really recall every conversation they've had? Verbatim?
    •  To "embellish" that much--Frey exaggerated an incident that involved him hitting a cop with his car and being belligerent at the police station. The officers involved stated that he was calm and polite.--and not expect someone to look up the police report is ridiculous. It's human nature.
    • I do feel bad that Oprah ripped him a new asshole. Funny, considering she's been accused of "embellishing" the details of her childhood.


  1. Actually, it's a lot more than just simple embellishment. The Smoking Gun investigated:

    He lied about how long he was held in jail in that instance that you mentioned.

    There was also a big example in the book where he made up something he was charged--he calls it felony mayhem, and no such charge exists. And there's more listed on the site.

  2. I believe Frey told Larry King that he had "embellished" details. His word, not mine.

  3. I read this book a couple years before the Oprah brou-ha-ha. I wasn't really surprised that some of it was embellished, and I don't really get the anger over the fact that he did. It was still an entertaining read. When I heard it was "embellished" I didn't go into histrionics like, say, Oprah. I didn't feel lied to. I say, move it from non fiction to fiction and the problem's solved, right?

  4. I agree with you, Nikki. It was a great story but a lot of it is way out there. I'd have no problem if were moved to fiction or if there were a note saying what was "embellished."

    And, unlike Oprah, I'm not kept awake because James Frey lied to me.

  5. Well, what I meant with my comment was that those weren't embellishments. They were lies. It would be one thing if the book was marketed as fiction but if it's non fiction, the author/publisher does have an obligation to ensure that what they're saying is as close to the truth as possible. This book contained out and out lies, as the Smoking Gun site that I linked to shows.

  6. Oh yeah, I mean I totally get that the author and publisher have responsibilities to their readers. What I don't get is the histrionics and the BFD this was made out to be - going so far as to offer refunds? I mean, he lied, but he lied about himself. It's not like a lie that's really going to negatively affect anyone else's life. Sadly more people gave a shit about James Frey's lies than the lies that have landed the U.S. in a war. That's what I don't really understand. There are levels of lying and some of it matters and some of it doesn't. If I wasn't OK with a modicum of lying in my life, I wouldn't let my kid believe in Santa Claus.

    Ah shit. That's what Oprah acted like. A kid who'd just been informed there's no Santa.

  7. I don't know about refunds, but I think it is a pretty big deal. If you're going to make things up and market yourself as a non fiction writer, then you have to expect that people are going to check up on you. It's not the end of the world, no, but I think people have a right to call you out if you've published lies under the guise of journalism or fact.

  8. I don't know. I think the whole JK Rowling / Steve Vander Ark lawsuit was a waaay bigger deal as far as the publishing industry goes. We were talking about thievery of intellectual property. The outcome of that case could (and will) have huge implications about what is and is not allowed under the guise of literary criticism. And yet, the only place I was able to find updates on that story was Mugglenet. It's so sad, because Oprah pretty much told people to care that James Frey lied to them, and people just robotically followed. It's like people can't get beyond the emotions of "Oh my god, I was lied to!" I know intellectual property rights isn't as sexy a story, but it's far more important in the long run, to the publishing industry. Well, really to any sort of artistic industry.

    Not that I'm really defending James Frey. (Even though half of me admires him for getting away with it for so long) I just can't defend the outside-the-industry histrionics over it when there are far more important stories within the industry.

  9. I've never read it, just wasn't interested and was too busy. But I did hear another memoir writer Don Miller discuss fiction and non-fiction at a conference-- it's worth a read.