Friday, January 27, 2006

Don't lie, at least not to Oprah. It makes her mad.

Yesterday was the first day of my new bi-weekly routine of lunchtime 'strength training.' It went ok. I didn't really think I was sore until I drove to work. It's pretty sad when making a left-hand turn causes you to wince. I suppose it's a good sign that I am actually accomplishing something.

Did anyone watch James Frey on Oprah yesterday? Poor guy. I mean, I think he screwed up royally, but that scared and bewildered look on his face couldn't help but make me want to give him a hug, a pat on the leg and say 'it'll be ok." But then I remembered all the dough he was making and didn't feel quite so bad.

I give him credit for showing up on Oprah, though he seemed a little beaten and quiet. Who wouldn’t be? I mean that's Oprah who's all pissed at you. He just sat there, looking mortified, as she spat her righteous anger, followed by applause from the same audience that adored him months before. And unfortunately, he didn't really have much to say.

I feel his worst transgression was not so much in the actual writing of the book, but in the promotion. When asked about some of the experiences he writes about, he replied as if everything was exactly as he wrote it. But as it turns out, some of the 'holy crap, that is unbelievable!' parts of the book, are in the end, not to be believed.

The show frustrated me a little. With all the literary minds and critics she assembled, I would have preferred more discussion on the bigger picture of "where you draw the line." I would think that in general memoirs, especially ones about such topics as addiction, take great liberties to protect the privacy of people who happened to be around the author during the time period depicted. Characteristics are changed - appearance, traits and even habits. Oprah seemed determined to flush out details of the book and some, seem trivial. Like whether Lilly hung herself or not (it turns out she actually slit her wrists). Does it really matter? Does it change the impact of the event? This seems unimportant to me.

You could probably take any memoir and pick it to pieces. Oh they said it was sunny, but I just did a meteorological history of that very day, and it was definitely overcast! Liar.

I suppose it could all be fixed with a disclaimer at the front, which a lot of memoirs do employ. Something that says it is based on certain events and people in the book have been altered to protect privacy, blah, blah, blah. As a reader, I assume this anyway. I suppose turning a hour stay in jail into a 3 month incarceration is pushing it. But other than that, and the dentist thing, the rest seems trivial. I still liked the book. He is still an addict and has things to express, and I can appreciate that. Though if I knew him then, or had been involved in any of those events, perhaps I would feel differently. But memories are subjective...so who's to say.

In conclusion, he fucked up. He was given the opportunity in countless interviews and promotional events to disclose any license he took to change or modify events or people, but did not. And therfore lied, knowingly. But, in the world of lies, these are pretty small...and I think everyone needs to get over the drama and just relax. Read a book.

4 comments:

amy. said...

I don't think she was mad because he lied, I think she was mad because she believed it and feels silly now. She's Oprah and she got tricked by this guy. She promoted his book like whoa. I say more power to him. Who cares if it's true? It's not like it's the news or something. If people are disappointed because his life wasn't as bad as he said it was, fear not gentle readers, somebody else's life was twice as bad-that's why they never got around to writing the damn book.

nacho said...

I agree. It is definitely not as big of a deal it's being made out to be. Yes, he lied. He got caught. Enough already (of course I am guilty of proliferation of the story by posting about it :-).

If Oprah wasn't in the equation, not nearly as many people would be talking about it-including me. There have been bigger literary scandals, even recently (JT Leroy) but you didn't see that on the morning national news...unlike what I watched this morning.

Angela said...

Confession: I think James Frey is kind of cute in that "I'm a little bit stinky" sort of way.

I wonder if I will ever have the opportunity to make Oprah feel silly. One can dream...

nacho said...

Hi Angela!!!... if by stinky you mean a 'dirty hippie' vibe - I totally see it. He reminds me of some people I went to school with that got a little to immersed in the 'experimental' part of their lives.

If by stinky, you mean 'bad boy', well now that the great Mama O doesn't approve, he is that much more sexy, no?

And if that is reallly you FP?...I'm diggin' the blog hardcore, you rock star. Thanks for the hello:-)