kottke.org posts about smokinggun
James Frey's A Million Little Pieces fiction? Jan 08 2006
The Smoking Gun just published a long article (via 3qd) alleging that James Frey's memoir, A Million Little Pieces, is not as non-fictional as he's claimed on Oprah and in countless other interviews. From A Million Little Lies:
Police reports, court records, interviews with law enforcement personnel, and other sources have put the lie to many key sections of Frey's book. The 36-year-old author, these documents and interviews show, wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw "wanted in three states."
In additon to these rap sheet creations, Frey also invented a role for himself in a deadly train accident that cost the lives of two female high school students. In what may be his book's most crass flight from reality, Frey remarkably appropriates and manipulates details of the incident so he can falsely portray himself as the tragedy's third victim. It's a cynical and offensive ploy that has left one of the victims' parents bewildered. "As far as I know, he had nothing to do with the accident," said the mother of one of the dead girls. "I figured he was taking license...he's a writer, you know, they don't tell everything that's factual and true."
TSG became interested in Frey when they attempted to locate his mug shot after his Oprah appearance, had difficulty locating it, and started to dig a little deeper. Along the way, they uncovered several instances in Frey's book that appear fictionalized or significantly embellished. When contacted for the story by TSG, Frey hired a lawyer and published some of his confidential correspondance with TSG on his blog, at the same time commenting:
So let the haters hate, let the doubters doubt, I stand by my book, and my life, and I won�t dignify this bullshit with any sort of further response.
TSG alleges that he also admitted in those conversations that parts of his book were untrue.
The Smoking Gun has a pretty good reputation with these sorts of things, so I expect this to be taken pretty seriously by the media and probably Frey's publisher and fans. A James Frey message board is already buzzing about the piece. If it holds up, TSG should get some recognition for it...this piece is as good as any investigative piece I've seen in a newspaper or magazine. I haven't gotten around to reading either of Frey's books...has anyone out there read them? What's your impression of the books and TSG's allegations?