Michelle Buckley

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Oprah -- No Longer A James Frey Fan

It's REALLY official -- Frey's a fraud and Oprah admits, she feels duped.

See the link (Oprah & Gonna Frey) for an article about a second Oprah appearance made today by A Million Little Pieces memoir -- I mean fiction -- author, James Frey.

He's back...and in the words of Ricky Ricardo, he's got some 'splainin' to do. In addition to being booed several times by a studio audience that previously embraced him and hung on his every word, Frey was accused by Oprah as having 'betrayed millions of readers.' But she stopped just short of withdrawing her endorsement of his book, as she's done only once before. By his own admission, Frey confessed that he shopped his "memoir" to the publishing world as both fiction and nonfiction. (Wow, as a writer, I didn't even know this was an option. I may just try that with my next book!!!) But, make no mistake, Frey is not the first author to embellish a memoir. He's just the first to do it...be endorsed by Oprah...and then be slapped on the hand (or more like punched in the stomach) so publicly for it. Way to give a beatdown, Oprah!!!! And now???? Frey's credibility, public goodwill and budding writing career have all been shattered into...A Million Little Pieces...

Thoughts? How do you like your nonfiction -- with a whole lotta fiction? Do you think this public "duping" will tarnish Oprah's image or the reputation of her Book Club? Let me know what you think....
8 Comments:
Blogger Josh Max's blawg said...

I've led what many consider an adventurous life. I've published many first-person accounts in various media including the New York Times, NY Press http://www.nypress.com/18/51/news&columns/Josh%20Max.cfm and other mags 'n' rags.

Editors and friends have told me throughout the years I should write a memoir. Finally I decided to craft a proposal last fall. I snooped about and discovered a very successful NY agent, one who represented a book almost equally as famous as Frey's. To my surprise, my call went straight through to him. I told him what the book was about and so on, and he said, sure, I'd love to see---send. He gave me his email address, I sent, and two weeks later got the following reply:

"I got a chance to look at your stuff, and despite its being honest and sharp, I don’t think I could help you sell it. The memoir market is massively crowded, so it’s really only the things that leap off the page and grab me by the throat that I can take on. Your story is heartfelt but it didn’t have the gripping style I think it needs to really work... the kind of thing readers expect from openings like A Million Little Pieces, for instance. As much as I hate to make comparisons, it really is something at that level that editors are looking for now..."

James Frey's mess is having an effect on writers like myself who have had experiences they want to tell people about---experiences that really happened, not that they made up.

Nevertheless, I shall press on, doing the self-publishing thing if it comes to that.

I think a fitting punishment for Frey is to be required to shred a copy of "A Million Tiny Pieces" into a cereal bowl, add milk and eat it.

Then we should all move on.

2:29 PM, January 27, 2006  
Blogger princessdominique said...

Yeah I think he should eat his words too, seeing as he couldn't find a coherent statement on Oprah yesterday.

2:32 PM, January 27, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

JMB -- I wonder what would happen if you contacted that agent today. I bet he would embrace you with open arms for being the Anti-Frey. (Is that anything like an anti-drug? -- LOL) I bet Frey is definitely gonna have an impact on memoir writers. I heard a new term today that I think is a direct response to the JF&O debacle. Some memoirs are now being called fictionalized memoirs. WOW. Seems like an oxymoron to me. BTW -- I'm gonna have to check out your work. Thanks for stopping by.

PD -- wasn't he pitiful. He looked like a young, stuttering kid being chastised by his momma. So different from his first appearance when he was so confident and eloquent. (LOL) Some have suggested he should not have appeared a 2nd time. I don't know if I would have appeared to eat crow on national tv. Some have suggested he did it because it was a pr stunt to induce public sympathy for him -- which means more book sales. I say he probably had some contractual agreement with Oprah that required him to appear whenever she asked since she selected his book for her Club.

3:36 PM, January 27, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

And is it just me -- but when Oprah mentioned he said something about using a gun -- I shook my head. It ain't really that serious, JF. Ever heard of writing under a pen name and not doing pr? Okay, I have never been called out and embarrased on Oprah, so maybe it is that serious! Something tells me, he'll be okay.

4:04 PM, January 27, 2006  
Blogger lady in satin said...

I like my Nonfiction to be the opposite of fiction!! lol

The truth...basically.

I don't think this will tarnish Oprah's image at all, or the book club because she's bringing it to everyone's attention. I feel that if someone else expressed this to the media before Oprah knew about it, then it would be some kind of scandal where there's a possibility that Oprah's image could be tainted. But in the eyes of Americans, Oprah can do no wrong!!

10:30 PM, January 27, 2006  
Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

I began reading this book in December. I put it down. I could not believe his words.

I work with a lot of people and pathology is something that is easily known by me (occupational hazard). I felt he was a narcissitic sociopath. And sadly, when he got caught, he showed that diagnosis.

I feel for him despite his pathology. Thing is, when sociopaths get caught, that is when the feel remorse. Until then, he was defiant, lying and fooling everyone.

I know that his MS got rejected from 17 publishers as a fiction piece. It was suggested that he change it to reflect his life as a Non Fiction MS. I guess he only made some changes.

Oprah needed to protect her brand. And to highlight that truth is important. The secondary gain from this fallout is that the world can get a glimpse of psychopathology in the limelight.

10:24 AM, January 30, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

LS -- I think you're right! Oprah can do no wrong. Everyone has been singing her praises since she confronted JF.

Dr. Deb -- It never even dawned on me -- but he IS mentally ill -- beyond the addiction tendencies. He was extremely narcissitic. Thanks for your clinical perspective. And you're right -- Oprah "the brand" did need to be protected. From what she said, 8 days after she announced the book as her choice, red flags were going up like crazy and people were coming forward expressing doubt about his "true" story. But beyond her protecting her name, I think Oprah is a woman of integrity that was deeply hurt by something she saw as a personal betrayal. When she supports a writer, she seems to embrace them like a friend. (For the record, she can embrace me and my book, Bulletproof Soul any time she wants.:-) It appears Oprah and her staff got very attached to JF. So for her -- it came across to me as seeming personal -- not just being a biz decision to protect her media kingdom.

4:16 PM, January 30, 2006  
Blogger Rose said...

Oprah did right. She couldn't embrace this untruthfulness. I think he will harm the folks for sure who write memoirs. People will always be suspcious. Oprah must investigate more when she endorses things or she will put her brand in jeapordy.The public is so fickle. I don't feel sorry for him. He lied and probably made millions. He can get the real help he needs...

11:45 PM, January 31, 2006  

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