Some of you may have heard by now about the James Frey scandal. I have been following it like a hawk since it started early this week. I'm not paying so much attention to the news reports because all they say is what I already know just twenty different ways. I've read what James has had to say on his website and I have read the very long report by The Smoking Gun. I watched James on Larry King Live last night and although Oprah still supports him though she is "disappointed" by the scandal, I don't know if I can say the same.
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey touched me in a way like no other book has touched me. My Friend Leonard did the same and I was glued to both and even talked about them several times in this here blog. I was so affected and so changed that not one day would go by that I didn't think of James' story or characters. It hurts to now know that they were just that; characters. His memoir turned out to not exactly be factual.
Although on Larry King Live he kept repeating over and over that he stands by his book and that only ten or so pages of his 423 page book are being disputed. Yes, but in my eyes, that doesn't necessarily mean that only ten pages are fictional. There is just no paper evidence of the other stuff that can be checked. We all know that in order to sell a memoir it must be written much like a fiction novel. Yes, James' book was very much over the top and unbelievable at times, but so is my story. So I believed every word he said whole heartedly.
I feel hoodwinked. He painted himself in a way that led me to believe he was some disturbed, angry, misunderstood, punk rock, raging alcoholic drug addict with no regard to anything or anyone who spat in the face of all authority and merely got by due to loyal friends. He was a criminal, an angry violent young man who took on the police and was charged with nearly every crime that would go along with such "fury" as he calls it.
In truth, James was a spoiled, cooperative, polo shirt wearing fraternity boy whose allowance from his parents paid for his drug and alcohol addiction. He did some fucked up shit but never spent one night in a jail cell, never took on the police and embellished nearly every detail of his run ins with the law in A Million Little Pieces.
He did not deny this. I am sad and disappointed. His actions have frowned upon the name of 'memoir' and due to his actions, memoirs will once again be marketed as fiction. Looks like it really is time for me to write my truthful story. Now more than ever, I have a feeling no one will buy it. It will just be compared to that 'lying conman's book'. I will market it as fiction based on fact and hope James didn't ruin it for the rest of it. You may be saying, 'well, if it's a good story, then it's a good story.' It's an amazing story, but come on now, the topic has been tainted.
There were days that I just felt good knowing that some key aspects in James' books were real. I feel loss now that I don't know the truth and I question Dear Leonard's existence. My favorite 'character' in any book I've ever read. He may have been a figment of James' imagination. And it hurts.