Thursday, January 12, 2006

How Many Little Pieces Was It Again?

My book club read "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey last month. I enjoyed reading it, except for all the descriptions of his different-colored vomit chunks, and the horrible, painful description of his root canal on his front teeth without any anesthetic or pain medicine.

I thought he seemed a little smug about his addiction and his iron-willed sobriety, and I was interested in the end of the book to read that everyone he met in the Treatment Center (capitalization a la Frey) died except him, basically.

I couldn't believe that there would be a dentist in Minnesota who would perform a front-tooth root canal without anesthetic, or that Hazeldon would require such a sacrifice from a brand-new resident. ("I know, let's cause our drug-addicted clients extra pain so they'll be sure to go through recovery!) So I asked a substance abuse counselor if that would really happen. She thought it was highly unlikely.

So when I started seeing news that he may have lied about parts of the story, I started reading. I read the whole report on How interesting that he expunged parts of his record. Why would you do that if you've already told the world about it in your book? I was sickened when the family of a girl killed in a train accident, a pivotal part in his book, said they didn't think he was very close to their daughter.

So what does eloquent James Frey say when he's asked about these things? "let the haters hate, let the doubters doubt, I stand by my book, and my life, and I won't dignify this bulls___ with any sort of further response."

Let the haters hate? Where does that come from? Are we, the reading public, just one more small-town cop out to get him? Is it really everybody in the world against poor James? And after all his grandiose capitalization in his memoir, why doesn't he call it a Book?

And why, oh, why, did Oprah call in on Larry King last night? I think Oprah's pretty cool, but if James is telling the truth, he doesn't need Oprah to back him up. And if he's lying (oops, I'm sorry ... "embellishing") and she's coming to his defense then he's just dragging her down.

Now his publisher is forcing him to add an Author's Note to the next printing, and has even offered a refund to anyone who bought the book directly from them. (Yeah, I routinely buy my books from Doubleday and Random House. Who needs the Barnes & Noble conveniently located in my town?) But how can we trust what the author's note is going to say? Will it be a reprise of "let the haters hate"?

I'm going back to re-read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I like my fiction to be fiction.

No comments:

Post a Comment