Lots of people keep raising the point of, "Well it was still a good book anyway and who cares about a few police incident details - The important thing was the rehab and the fact that he has turned his life around and is clean and sober now. So why does it matter if he lied?"
I will tell you why it matters. If you know that a person is lying to you about one thing, then how do you know that they are not lying to you about everything? They have lost your trust.
Frey keeps saying that he reported the facts as best as he can remember, yet he totally imagined the incident with hitting the cop. That's "bad memory"? Please. That is a LIE.
Saying, "Well the important thing is that he kicked his drug habit" is quite stupid considering that all you are going off of is a documented liar TELLING YOU that he kicked his drug habit. For all you know, he NEVER QUIT HIS DRUG HABIT and is still an addict today! Except now he has a lot more money to buy his drugs with.
If Frey has no problems lying to you about some things, then what makes you so sure that he's not lying to you about getting over his past addiction? He's probably still a drug user, and his advice is NOT TO BE TRUSTED.
I agree totally. If a person is lying about some things, where do you draw the line? When are they telling the truth? The way he hesitated on Larry King and just repeated over and over that the book was about drug and alcohol addicition did not restore my faith in him. If he had just been honest up front and admitted that most of the book was fiction, I would respect him.
And it's NOT minor details that have been fabricated! Spending 3 months in prison for a felony was an important part of the story. It turns out he never went to prison for more than 5 hours. That MATTERS! That's not "mis-remembering" something, that's lying. To claim that your *only* supporter/friend in high school was killed by a train and it was *you* who were directly responsible for the death of said friend and you claim everyone in town blamed you and THEN it turns out you lied about the whole thing? MATTERS!
Does Leonard even exist? Did Lilly even exist?
Does it matter?
To me it does. Otherwise publish this under Fiction.
You can get the subjective wrong in a non-fiction Memoir, but not the objective.
You can say "My mother screamed at me every day." and your mother could say "Oh I did not! You remember that wrong, I only yelled at you once in awhile" That is subjective and not a lie and I have no problem with that.
But if you say "My mother died when I was in elementary school and that destroyed me emotionally" and your mother is, in fact, still alive. That is objective truth that can be disproven. It is a lie and I DO have a problem with that.
Regardless of what literary experts may say...the general public automatically views "memoir" as fact. This outbreak completely changes my opinion of the book. I was so impressed with this reading up until the recent events, now I consider it a big joke.
quoting: "I think if this book helped just ONE person to seek treatment and help overcome their addiction then we should all cut the guy some slack."
This is NOT a good portrayal of recovery or the recovery process. It is NOT a "good start" for an addict who must, perhaps for the first time in their life embrace honesty. The facts of the book so badly distorted in some places it does NOT paint an accurate picture of the path that the addict is likely to take. It WILL damage, likely kill, some addicts that WOULD have taken a "time proven" path, who instead chose to do their recovery "the Frey way." .. Addiction recovery is about honesty, why start out from lies?
I'd like to add something to this. The reason I find what he did to be so repugnant is that the whole reason Oprah and the rest of the country bought his book is because he sold it to all of us as true.
It wasn't amazingly written. It was only inspiring because everyone was led to believe that this man survived all these traumas.
But he didn't. He lied.
If this book had been published as fiction (as it should have been) would Oprah have ever read it? NO.
So we've all been con-ed by a spoiled rich-kid addict.
I am in recovery myself, and I probably could write a book that is just as compelling and intersting as this. But, I would not have to "embelish" any parts of my story to make it more interesting. As I have said before, life is tough enough without having to make up anymore of it. I think most people who have gotten sober have stories just as horrifying and special as this one was. Maybe he should do a book on those that have actually lived their stories as a penance, then maybe we could show some "slack" to him.
--So we've all been con-ed by a spoiled rich-kid addict.
--And it looks like he'll get away with it.
I find that hard to believe. Making misleading statements is one thing, but when you lie about addiction and recovery, and people believe you to the point where they're leaving 12-step programs and abandoning other treatments that might have been helpful to follow the claims of someone who claimed to have hit bottom and come back from it, well... We're living in a country where a man put his RV on cruise control and went in the back make himself a sandwich thinking cruise control was autopilot & then successfully sued because nobody told him not to. Frey's just made a few million off these books, if that. Defending against even just one frivilous lawsuit is a huge expense. If just ten or twenty people go after him he'll be bankrupt by the year's end. It'll still be better than he deserves.
Quoting: Ok, what if Lance Armstrong lied about having cancer? If him talking about his fake-cancer got one man to go get an exam and that saved that man's life, do we forgive Lance for making his whole cancer story up???
J Moran- Sure, why not? I try my hardest not to lie everyday as I am sure we all do. But don't tell me you have told your children truthfully how many times you have gotten drunk, smoked pot, or been naughty in any way. I am sure you have embellished your wholesomeness so that they can emulate you and look up to you.
James Frey did the opposite here- he embellished his misbehavior in order to strengthen his story and make it more complelling and evoke more emotion. Because of these techniques its now a bestseller and has reached millions of people. I am not saying he wrote this book as an act of charity. But in the process alot of good came from it and thousands either sought treatment or maintained sobriaty. Once i hear stories that people failed at recovery because of his ideas and his story i will COMPLETELY turn against him. Until that day comes I am a supporter.
E- Clark- they mentioned in the book that Hazelton is the best facility in the country and only has a 19% success rate, which is the highest in the US. So the existing 12 step program is obviously extremely fallible and doesn't work for everyone sadly. Is it SO rotten that he proposes another method that other people can attempt and may work for them?
I feel it is the work itself that stands the test of time, and its emotional and spiritual truth is maybe more valuable than any actual truth. Fiction is that way, it's mostly lies told to tell truth. I guess memoirs are the same, and often, even history (though sometimes history and journalism are lies told to support lies).
What the Smoking Gun revelation does is bring up how we should approach personal integrity in memoir writing, and in all forms of writing. It's easy to think maybe that Frey figured he could write a fictional "memoir" of all the crappy things that happened to him in life, and then sell it as a truthful "memoir", because, hey, all that reality tv junk sells these days. But maybe he was just trying to tell a story as honestly as he could, and he needed to exaggerate to tell that story properly. It's hard to tell if that's acceptable, and I think that's why many people are in an uproar.
There's a law against selling snake oil. James Frey is selling his version of reality with the intention of inspiring others toward recovery whether that was his original agenda or not. Recovery is based on truth, not wild imagination. James Frey is selling snake oil with the words "Hold On" written all over the bottle.
If you've honestly "messed up" in your life, then you are entitled to write a poorly written book and make a little money off of your suffering if you are so geared. But to write an entire book based off of very little truth, sell it as reality, and then act as if you are being victimized by those who would call "shenanigans!", then you deserve nothing better than to be exposed as a liar to the public who forked out the $15 for your lies. If James Frey wants to be as open and transparent as he claims, why can't he just make the records public once and for all? He says that he won't show them because then others will ask and he will be forced to constantly tote them out. But if he makes it a matter of public record, then he won't need to be bothered since people will know where to go. Frey says his word should be taken at face value - I ask why? If he's selling it as real events, there should be some evidence to corroborate his story. Faith in God is one thing, but faith in would-be con-men is another.
People deserve the truth even if it hurts. Being lied to isn't going to help anyone and even celebrity authors shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.
Frey hasn't said that his embellishment is wrong, which is the crux of the argument here. I've read only snippets of the book, and that was all I needed to see to be convinced that his "daring" and "experimental" writing has no legs whatsoever - I've seen better fiction writing (since that's what this book essentially is, after all) from inexperienced, highly non-literary college kids. Frey's writing is lousy; it's a poor attempt to copy the major modernists' stream-of-consciousness narrative style and Hemingway's pithiness. (Don't get me started on his ludicrous use of capital letters. Unless you were born in the 18th century, there's no excuse for it.)
Therefore, given the positively wretched quality of the writing, the only possible redeeming factor of this book was its truthfulness: the idea that, even though the book is almost unreadable and excessively gruesome, the events described actually happened and were actually relevant in Frey's actual struggle.
But now we find out almost conclusively that central events and characters in this alleged memoir were entirely fabricated. And if these critical moments in Frey's life never happened, how can we trust what he says about anything?
So yes - Frey's dishonesty matters very much. This whole episode makes a mockery of today's publishers and trivializes the whole genre of autobiographical writing.
This guy inspired people to follow his own path to sobriety, only his own path was fake - filled with lies. How many people chose his path rather than a 12-step program and are now suffering? He is an opportunist of the first order. He sold his story as true because 29 publishers rejected it as fiction. Just admit you've been duped, people. You too, Oprah.
I couldnt agree more... the man is nothing more than a common con artist. Frey sold a story of falsehoods because the simple truth is far less inspiring. And to anyone who reasons that the book is "helpful" or "meaningful" to a recovering addict, keep in mind this came with a $15 price tag. I know plenty of people who help others because they can, and never for profit. I dont see Frey donating vast amounts of cash to recovery programs, or doling out sandwiches to homeless addicts. It seems the only person he intends to help is himself... bet that multimillion dollar movie deal will really help get his "message" out.
I haven't read this book and I have no intention on doing so. But I have heard that he speaks against 12 step programs. It is unfortunate that he is putting negative information out there, when these programs have changed people lives for the better, including my own. If anyone is interested in reading a book that is a true story of a battle with alcoholism, Caroline Knapp's "Drinking: A Love Story" is an excellent choice.