Log in

No account? Create an account
A Million Little Pieces - My $.02 
27th-Jan-2006 10:55 pm
Okay. I'm quite pissed off about this entire 'scandal' surrounding the authenticity of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey and his integrity as a writer. In short, FUCK OFF, JUST FUCK OFF!!

The book was brilliant, it spoke to hundreds of thousands of people and has been the catalyst for many addicts to get sober. It has allowed people who have never done any illicit chemicals in their lives a window view into the world of addiction, and given them a better sense of compassion for the struggle of the addict. It has empowered people with adicted loved ones with a wholly different approach to seeking help towards attaining sobriety. WHO THE FUCK CARES that he didn't really spend the three months in jail that he wrote he had? Does that REALLY change the good that has come from this book? NO! Did he write it as a design for living in some kind of Biblically prophetic self help guide sort of way? NO! Is James Frey a government official that bold face lies or embellishes upon the truth consistently hand over fucking fist where people's lives and or livelihoods are at stake? NO! I could go on and on and on, but I'll cease with the comparisons and state again that the majority of the people who are bitching the loudest about Frey's embellishments in AMLP have most likely never even been in the same room when a joint was lit or a *gasp* alcoholic drink consumed, these same uptight fuckers who live in a whitewashed and sanitized version of somepleace insane in and of itself. I'm getting to the point where I am not sure that I really trust anyone who's never been either blindingly drunk at least twice in their lives before or at the very least smoked weed a few times being a fair judge on substance 'abuse' - let alone crucifying an author who simply wrote a story, bottom line, over something as ridiculously asinine as how much time he actually served in jail for the purpose of authenticating the entirety of a story based on true events.

Jerry Stahl wrote an even more harrowing addiction/recovery memoir called Permanent Midnight, which was in part the catalyst for my own sobriety and still serves as an affirmation for it all these years later - and I knew the first time I read it in the 90's that parts of it were full of shit - but I still revere it as one of my favorite books ever and I reccommend it to anyone who wants to know what heroin addiction is REALLY like. Between it and Linda Yablonsky's The Story Of Junk, and possibly Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries, no one better chronicles what life as a smackhead is truly like. The point is that the book resonated with me profoundly and helped give me immeasurably valuable perspective, and AMLP did pretty much the same. THAT is it's value.

If we're going to take apart a story based on embellishments, lies, inconsistencies, contradictions, and statements of alleged fact in direct objection to base level logic, then I will personally host natiowide bible burnings and public humiliations of preachers the world over. THAT book as been responsible for more death, war, intolerance, strife, rape, murder, pilliaging, and general atrocity than any other force known to man. Get off your goddamned sanctimonious soapbox, Oprah. I'm a big fan of yours, but you really fucking pissed me off yesterday with your bullshit.

If you read this book and somehow feel betrayed now as a result of any of these revelations, please maim yourself, or at the very least fuck off. On a completely superficial closing note, I also think he's fucking hot as hell and I'd love to shag him senseless. No lie. Well, maybe. But not really.
28th-Jan-2006 04:10 am (UTC)
May Oprah Winfrey rot.
28th-Jan-2006 04:25 am (UTC)
i totally agree jude.

oprah pissed me off yesterday.
(Deleted comment)
28th-Jan-2006 04:31 am (UTC)
You're illustrating my entire point, Daniel. Maybe 4% of the entire work was fabricated, that hardly constitutes completely made up.

(Deleted comment)
28th-Jan-2006 04:50 am (UTC)
I may catch hell for this, but I will say it anyway.

My beef (if you can call it that because I am not severely outraged or anything) is not that he "Embellished" on some of the facts of the story, it is the fact that he embellished on most of the facts, and then proceeded to lie to the country about it by labeling this a Non-fiction work. His embellishments of the length he spent in Jail (two days in real life instead of 85 days in his book) or the fact that he was in Jail when his Girlfriend committed suicide (when he was actually in NC) makes me then ask the following question:

Is he truely clean?

I actually have doubt whether he is, and that is the whole point of his book. The trust he has gained is now broken, and people are asking those questions... which is perfectly acceptable. If he lied in several sections of his book, then did he lie throughout his entire book? Is he truely sincere that he is clean?

Again, I am not "outraged" in the sense that I never read the book, and I had no vested interest in it. I just see why people are upset.

Now... I am an Athiest like the next person, but I also know a few things about the Bible. The New Testament was not written as fact in the ancient times. They were not interested in making a book that will stand the test of time. Hell, the Book of John was written to make a Theological Point and changed the order that Christ was convicted and killed as to make the allegory of Jesus being the sacrifice of man (like sheep during passover at the time). Early Xians didn't want "historical Accuracy" because they thought Jesus was coming back within 200 years. Early Xians didn't market the documents of Jesus as fact. (that came later with the political cannonization of the NT)Read Galatations and find out that Paul was trying to coninve a congregation that Jesus was "coming back soon" when they were worried that the dead members of the congregation would not go to Jesus's Second Kingdom.

I remember, sitting there, arguing about the Bible's inaccuracies, to my professor/minister, and he simply said "They didn't care about historical accuracy, that is a new phenomenon in world culture." and he is right, it pisses me off that this fact is now forgotten and the bible is taken so literally (The professor/minister was incidentally one of the most liberal and open minded xians I have ever known, he was HOT too... and celibate... sigh).

However, I will agree... I find Frey Hot and I would fuck him senseless as well.
(Deleted comment)
28th-Jan-2006 04:52 am (UTC) - Fear, the great motivator.
An ex boyfriend once accused me of lying when I said that I had never smoked anything. Never smoked a cigarette, never smoked a joint, never smoked anything.
He said, "no one has ever not smoked anything even once in their entire life."
So I told him I must be no one.

To be comnpletely honest, I'm too frickin' scared of addiction to smoke anything. And now, the smell of cigarette smoke makes me nauseous, so that's a good deterrent.

I just watched my aunt's lifelong struggle with smoking, and knew that if she couldn't beat smoking, there was no way I'd be able to if I ever started. My aunt could pick herself up after her BiPolar husband drove them into debt beyond belief, then left her to pay it all off, work four jobs to make the money. She could pick herself up off the floor after her second husband died of cancer nearly six months to the day after she married him (they found the cancer three months after the wedding). She could take her children and move and start over with nothing when the maintenance man at her low income housing division made lewd advances on her six year old daughter. She could do all these things, but she couldn't quit smoking. Then, she fooled many of us into thinking she had quit for years, but I found out recently that she is smoking.

So, with her as an example to remind me the consequences of addiction, I've been too afraid to risk it. Fear can be a great motivator... rarely is it a good one, but in this instance I think it is.
28th-Jan-2006 04:56 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, I couldn't disagree with you more.

As a part-time book editor, this story has fascinated me. Although I have not read this book, I have heard many good things about it before this, so I watched this story with much interest as it unfolded.

I do believe that he wrote an engaging book that has really inspired some people and got others talking. I don't disagree with those merits.

However, why he had to lie and call it a memoir when he and the publisher could have marketed it as fiction and said something like "This book is based on true events, but some of the facts and names have been changed." is beyond me, as people do this all the time. I have worked with several clients who wanted to tell stories from their own experience but changed or embellished them to make a better story. And as soon as they start doing that, we know they have to consider it fiction. There's no question about that.

To me, I think the main point in this controversy is that if he admits he lied about a lot of the details of the book, people begin to question if any of it is true. Perhaps some of the details he changed in this account of addiction and recovery are not crucial to the bigger message of the work, but they certainly could be in other works of non-fiction. If we do not hold writers and publishers responsible for what they claim is fact, then they not only undermine their own work, but they indirectly undermine the work of other non-fiction authors, because the public will not know what is really true or what is embellished.

All of this could have been easily avoided by 1) him being upfront with a brief statement at the beginning of the book and 2) by the publishing house actually checking some of these facts before publication, particularly the ones that should have had some basic documentation.

I do think the publishing house is just as responsible for this entire mess. I was not convinced by the remarks of his editor, who also appeared on the show. I thought her responses were very weak, and I think she really dropped the ball on this. I would think that because he was talking about other people in his recovery program that they would have had to do some fact checking and make sure those people couldn't sue them for what he wrote, but it sounds like they admit they didn't do too much extra fact-checking.

Since Oprah personally championed this work and believed what she was told about it being complete non-fiction, I can understand her being embarrassed, pissed, and feeling like she needs to follow up on this with him and the publisher. I was personally glad to see her confront them and try to get some answers, which I thought were pretty weak. He was clearly busted and didn't have much to say in his own defense, and I will admit it became uncomfortable watching him have to sit there and take it from her. I'm surprised he agreed to even do the show, to be honest.

So I guess I will go maim myself or fuck off now that I have given my two or three cents. Sorry we don't see eye to eye on this. Perhaps hearing an alternate point of view from someone who works with books might give you something more to think about.
28th-Jan-2006 05:14 am (UTC)
I haven't read the book, have honestly had no interest in reading the book (I'm not a smoker and I can't say I've ever been addicted to anything that I can identify). That said, I am a journalist, and I have to say it's rather insulting to watch someone make a shitload of money off making things up out of their head and calling it "experience" and "research," when I do that actual thing every week for pittance, and have for too many years.

I don't think this book's going to change the world, like the Bible was made to; for me, it's the principle of the thing.
28th-Jan-2006 04:57 am (UTC)
I totally agree that this fiasco has been blown way out of proportion. Do people really think that autobiographies and memoirs are verbatim fact?! They all have exaggerations to make the author seem more important. Even the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin has been examined and questioned for being entirely factual. That's just the way writing works. In college classes I've taught, students have told me themselves that they sometimes embellish their diary and journal entries when writing about their lives. Maybe this guy went farther than the average memoirist; maybe not. The fact is--everything has spin applied. Big deal. Move on. If anyone is still offended, buy a Sharpie pen and write "NOVEL" over the Memoir line on the cover and place it back on your shelf and move on to the next book.

28th-Jan-2006 05:03 am (UTC)
There is an author out there who wrote an "autobiography" of Ronald Reagan a few years ago called "Dutch"

The issue? The Author put HIMSELF in the book and made him a fictional Character who follows Reagan throughout his life. HUGE Firestorm in the History community. Stephen Ambrose, the lauded WWII author of many great books, was found for Plagarism, the most deadly sin in the academic world, and many of his books have been scruitinized again (and found to have plagarized there too). Many Historians have now written him off as a serious Historian now largely because of this flap.

When you break that trust of saying "This is the true account of the subject I am writing" and it is found out later that he cheated/lied/whatever... you are done. The Literary world is harsh that way, and it needs to be.
28th-Jan-2006 05:16 am (UTC)
Addicts lie. This behavior seems to betray his lack of recovery.
28th-Jan-2006 07:10 am (UTC)
I thought of that, what you said, when I heard about this whole thing going down. Because I have a friend who is relapsing into crack addiction and alcoholism, and lies all the time, even when it is so obvious it is insulting, it made me sad to think this guy may relapse under all this scrutiny. I guess not "quite" telling the truth may be alarming for those who received so much hope from his book. If it does not bother the addicts and those who were inspired, then that is good news.
28th-Jan-2006 06:22 am (UTC)
Regardless of how many people were touched, I find it difficult not to get mad when someone writes a book purporting to be his life experience when it isn't.
28th-Jan-2006 01:20 pm (UTC)
Perhaps you'd find it less difficult if you had actually read the book, were touched, and came to find that the details that were embellished upon were a relatively fractional part of the story as a whole. Regardless, I respect your opinion even if I may disagree with it.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
28th-Jan-2006 06:44 am (UTC)
I can fuck off if need be, but as an editor, I think it is important for a book to be a true account if it is to be sold as a memoir. If it is based on truth, then it becomes a work of fiction, based on truths.
I think it is really the responsibility of the publishing house to check facts. And the responsibility of the author not to lie.

I guess what you are saying about Frey's book is how I feel about the bible in very many aspects. Could I give a shit who buried Jesus? Can I give a fuck whether or not His mother was a virgin? Or when His birthday is? I listen to the message, and not the particulars. But here, we are dealing with the insane need to grasp 2,000-year-old history, and we can see how well we have done that. Shit, we can't even get Pocahontas' story right, for fuck's sake, and that happened in the early 17th century.

As an editor, I am just saying I have to draw the line on what his book is called on the market. A small disclaimer would have been just fine. Embellishment is not a crime, but it is not a memoir either.
I am glad he has helped a bunch of drug addicts get their shit together. I understand, from seeing friends suffer through it, how difficult that is. I hope Frey does not relapse under this pressure, honestly. I am not here to "burn the witch," so to speak.

i think that because there are so many thinly veiled lies and interpretations of what is *truth,* this guy was raked over the coals.

I would like to hear from those who do suffer addictions and read the book. what do they have to say, or how do they feel about it? I guess if it was written for people to find hope, if the lies - or the particulars - don't bother them, then all is well, except in the publishing world, where they have to establish what will not be considered a memoir.
28th-Jan-2006 01:23 pm (UTC)
This is my entire point, the fact that as a now 15 years clean 35 year old man, I identified with this story and it validated a part of me. If the term memoir needs to be redefined or the story labelled novel, fine - it still stands out as a fucking great read.
28th-Jan-2006 06:47 am (UTC)
Jude, I agree with you that this is a wonderful and life-changing book - and I havent seen many people challenging that.

However, especially in light of the current administration, people need to be held accountable for their claims. By allowing people to label a fictional event as truth opens the door for so much wrong in this world. I know you say its only a book, but its one that has the nation's attention and for that reason it must be held responsible.
28th-Jan-2006 01:25 pm (UTC)
I'm just questioning the importance of the standard that this book and the author are being held to, particularly when Scott McClellan shits his way through White House press briefings and that doesn't get the kind of attention this does - and that is merely one example.
(Deleted comment)
28th-Jan-2006 07:45 am (UTC)
Just FYI--Jude doesn't have 24/7 access to the internet, so I'm quite sure he hasn't logged back on since writing this blog entry, and thus, hasn't responded.

Give him a minute.
28th-Jan-2006 08:04 am (UTC) - Okay, hope this makes sense, sorry it's so long.
Okay, don't tell me to fuck off quite yet: but I am not glad it was embellished. For one, I cannot claim to have read the book, so I will take your word for it that it's an excellent story. So, from the viewpoint of a journalism student in the thick of the juiciest parts of my degree, it's a less-than-great outlook; I have a sour first impression of the ethics surrounding the fact that he embellished a story regarding a subject that, in its nature alone, has a huge impact on great number of people.

That goes without saying that the likelyhood of complete truth in the Bible is about the same as the likelyhood WMD were in Iraq when we invaded.

It's just an ethics question. And it's not the story that should be ripped apart because of it. That's ridiculous. Forget that, it's said and done, it's been written and read by many. People need not focus on the embellishments by bashing what the story has to say! Instead, they need to think about ethics and move on from the story itself. Other things deserve to be ripped apart when embellished, for example, say... war plans.

The story should be accepted and its inaccuracies remembered at the same time. The problem with that is this nation thinks in black and white and cannot do that. Society in a whole tends to takes sides. The story cannot be remembered as something great - yet embellished - without people flipping out. Part of it is because there's a little curiosity as to whether or not the book would still be good had there not been embellishments. When those issues are shelved, the story can and should be fully considered and appreciated in the same way while still understanding the ethics behind what embellishment does to credibility. It doesn't mean his point shouldn't be considered, which is what all the critics are screaming right now. It's not like this is a logic test or a murder case based on circumstantial evidence; feelings and thoughts don't change because of his embellishments. The fact that he did it almost actually boosts his intentions to deliver a powerful story; he was so intent on carrying across a specific point that he made the mistake of abandoning ethics to do so. It isn't admirable, but it's a sign of weakness, and doesn't his story involve extreme weaknesses anyway? Yeah, so his credibility is hurt, but at least we know now that it's small, petty details that were embellished, and not the point of the actual story. You know it, and others who read it should.

And we all know that Oprah is somewhat of an opportunist at heart; who gets that far without her kind of opportunism, anyways? The Oprah Show back in the day makes me shudder, nevertheless, I have great respect for the woman and enjoy a legitimate portion of her material.

The only thing I think really needs to be ripped apart is the outright denial of embellishment and the fact that people are getting too worked-up. It's pretty bad how he lied and denied like that. I think that waiting and then admitting defeat would've been a better idea. People like winning and it just wasn't Frey's turn for it. But instead of beating him up about it, all people need to do is acknowledge the mistakes he made and question instead why there is this idea that they have the right to know the truth. We don't really have the right to know the truth, this isn't Bush's war game here, and if anyone is hurt, I think it's taking it too far. Some might argue that it dishonors his girlfriend's memory concerning his portrayal of his circumstances during her death, but my point (finally!) ends up being this: what is the big fucking deal with holding grudges? Hanging onto such a grudge makes me suspicious of what people want from him, anywyas. We must instead realize this a story and appreciate the story, although Frey's actions have given people the license to no longer believe it, and that's their problem. Yet it will weigh on his mind in the end. So I echo your calls: give him a fucking break already.

There is no such thing as thoughtful analysis anymore. People don't enjoy that. It's gossip, it's what makes a headline, and it's what entertains the smallest of minds. This controversy is a great example of it.
28th-Jan-2006 12:41 pm (UTC) - Re: Okay, hope this makes sense, sorry it's so long.
I couldn't agree with you more, you've summed up my feelings here beautifully.
28th-Jan-2006 12:41 pm (UTC)
Have you read the Smoking Gun article? There seem to be more lies here than time spent in jail. Try entire offenses made up.

I haven't read the book and really don't intend to, but the thing that bothers me most is trying to be inspiring. He's trying to make money by fucking with society's need to care and need to empathize.

He's a con artist, plain and simple. He never once clarified himself until he was caught.

And this isn't coming from someone who has led a prudish life, I promise you :)

But he is kind of cute in that picture, I'll give you that.
28th-Jan-2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
I suppose it is more a matter of it being a great story for myself and many others, and the fabrications (and there are few comparatively in relation to the story as a whole) just don't tear down the story as a whole. If you haven't read it and have no intentions of doing so, I think it is pretty moot. If he inspires people to want better for themselves than what they currently have, then I think he deserves the money - that's trivial to me personally. American dreaming at best.

Con or not, I loved the book and got much validation from it.
28th-Jan-2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
>>However, I will agree... I find Frey Hot and I would fuck him senseless as well.

I agree. I'd put it inside him for sure.
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
This page was loaded Mar 23rd 2018, 3:25 am GMT.