Friday, January 27, 2006

High Atop of my Soapbox

Dave has warned me over and over again that I should not post things on my blog that are not fact based, but I'm pulling out my soapbox and doing it anyway. I'll try to make it brief, however. Please do not send me hate mail!

I saw the first Oprah show with James Frey, when he was talking about his book and his addiction. I thought the book sounded fascinating. When I lost my job, I got a library card and the first book I reserved was "Million Little Pieces." I was number 800+ on the waitlist so I had a long time before I would get this book. The day my book came in was the day that all the chaos began surrounding the book. As of right now, I have not finished the book, but I am more than half way through it and think it's great.

So here's my beef.

Yes James Frey lied when he went on Oprah the first time and said that the events in his book actually happened. Yes Oprah has a right to be embaressed by that. Yes the events in "Million Little Pieces" are not completely true. But, that's where I am drawing the line.

Oprah called into Larry King Live and said that "the underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with [her], and [she] know[s] it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book." I don't understand why she feels the need to go back on this statement. This book is about drug addiction and alcoholism and how one many struggled to get through it. If people use this book to help them through their addictions, whether this book is true or not, it's still a good thing. It's serving its purpose.

I watched (almost all of) Oprah's show yesterday. The following is transcript from the show that really struck me and it is something I whole-heartedly believe. The publisher, Nan Talese made some very good statements about novels, non-fiction, and memoirs. She states, "You cannot stop people from making up stories. We learn by stories." Oprah responds with, "You can if you call it a memoir. You can make up stories and call them novels. People have done it for years." The publisher sums it up when when she said, "A novel is something different than a memoir. And a memoir is different from an autobiography. A memoir is an author's remembrance of a certain period in his life."

James Frey unfortunately has made some public speaking mistakes regarding the media blitz surrounding this book. He really should stop calling the people in the book 'characters' and he probably shouldn't have said he had hundreds and hundreds of pages of documentation to back-up the facts of this book. But he did say he "wrote it from memory" and how it is his memory of how things happened. Isn't that what a memoir is? When I saw my dad fall while running and slice his head open, to me it happened in slow motion and I could probably write detailed pages of the event and probably a lot of things would be embellished because it happened so fast I couldn't get all the details of. But, it's my memory of how it happened and therefore it's my memoir.

Here's my final statement. I like the book. I believe in what the book is about. I believe it is James Frey's account of his addiction. I'm sorry Oprah, I'm backing James Frey on this one.


Dave said...

Yeah, Oprah didn't come off well in that interview. Why didn't she use her empire to fact-check it if she was so concerned?

jeff said...

this was a well thought out, and well articulated rant. makes me want to pick up the book now!

Val said...

I'd like to read YOUR memoir ;)