Monday, January 09, 2006

The Great Lie Detector

The Great Lie Detector
I haven't read James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces," but if it's even remotely as interesting as The Smoking Gun's careful analysis of how Frey's best-selling memoir is actually a pack of egregious and unsupportable lies, it'll be worth a read. Just wait until you can pick it up at the bargain bin.

The bigger lesson here is this: the Internet is now the great lie detector. Whatever you've done, you can run, but you can't hide.

Apparently, Frey originally wanted to publish his book as a work of fiction, but was told by his editor to make it factually correct so that it could be published as a memoir. Unfortunately for Frey, his many outrageous claims came to the attention of The Smoking Gun, and rather than coming clean, he chose to stonewall and threaten lawsuits.

History will show how big a mistake Frey made. Will he go down as another Stephen Glass or Jayson Blair? Will Oprah 'fess up to her mistake in tabbing him as the new new thing? Or will America's vast capacity for forgetfulness allow the scandal to fade away, allowing Frey to enjoy the premiere of the movie version of his novel (not memoir)?

2 comments:

Justin K said...

Didn't someone say that there is no such thing as bad PR?

Having sold more than 1.7M books, appearing in Oprah and having Lindsay Lohan as a fan, I'm pretty sure no matter what happens, Frey will not be calling this episode "a mistake".

I think Frey discovered that a lot of people suffer from "Schadenfreude" (taking delight in the suffering of others)... That's why sites like F'dCompany was/is(?) so popular and why he intentionally embellished his f'd-up ness in his book.

Chris said...

There is almost no such thing as bad PR. But outright lies tend to be bad for business.

Fortunately for Frey, he isn't a journalist, and can't be fired.

Nonetheless, I think that this has a pretty chilling effect on his ability to claim himself as bigger than Eggers, Sedaris, et al.

Frey relied on his persona to sell the books...it's like Vanilla Ice pretending to be a hard-core gangsta.