Number One Booksquare Vice? Schadenfreude.

January 26th, 2006 · 9 Comments
by Booksquare

Ha! You thought we’d say Chinese noodles, didn’t you? Noodles are, we have recently discovered, our third biggest vice. That is beside the current point. We have been accused of such heinous crimes as “being mean”, and to that, we can only say, well, yes, that’s true. Some people tap dance, we don’t.

Neither, apparently, does James Frey (did you know he wrote about book about writing fiction? We didn’t, but the husband has provided almost-incontrovertible proof). At the risk of offending delicate sensibilities, word on the street is that Oprah Winfrey does not like being made to look foolish. Not one little bit. Apparently today’s event makes Battlestar Galactica seem like merely so-so television.

Makes us wish we’d checked in with Oprah before agreeing to return Peter’s book for him. Turns out he’s not the litigious type and not the type to cause a scene in a bookstore. And still he demands that justice be served. If this doesn’t salve the wounded soul, we don’t know what will.

File Under: Square Pegs

9 responses so far ↓

  • Millenia Black // Jan 26, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    Awe. I actually felt sorry for him while watching today’s show. He’s lied all these years, passing the book off as fact, but he hardly presents as some type of master manipulator. I think he just got caught up in a mistake and now he’s realizing just how huge a mistake it was. I do wish he’d just let go of ALL pretense and admit the book should’ve been slated as fiction from the jump off…..However, considering that he doesn’t exactly need to do anymore press at this point, it’s to his credit that he made today’s Oprah appearance and took his flogging like a man….well, kind of.

  • Lorra // Jan 27, 2006 at 8:08 am

    Booksquare —

    Like Millenia, I felt somehwat sorry for Frey when I watched a tape of the program last night with my husband. I believe this crisis will test his sobriety and maybe even his will to live.

    I did not, however, have any symphany for Nan Talese. My husband, a lawyer, said he wishes every client he had ever redied for trial was half as well prepared as Nan at fending off an attack.

    Another question, which I posed on Booksquare’s blog a while back is whether any literature is purely non-fictional or fictional. Certainly the book “Primary Colors” which was published as a work of fiction, left very few readers (or viewers of the film) wondering which now (in)famous political couple inspired the book.

    I said last week that I chose to write my recently completed manuscript as fiction rather than non-fiction, despite the greater likelihood of success attached to the latter, because of fallout. If the fiction version gets published, however, there will still be fallout since the “bad guys” and the true story on which the novel is based, are undoubtedly still recognizable to anyone familiar with the true story.

    Frey’s “true story” was supposedly altered to protect innocent people depicted within. But of course, those innocent people are all clearly reconizable to people familiar with the truth.

    What I’m asking (again) is whether literature is a continuum whose subdivisions are more blurred or hybridized depending on the writer, the publisher and their recollections of events and/or their moral values.

    I’m thinking much too hard about this entire thing.

    Lorra Laven

  • Lorra // Jan 27, 2006 at 8:09 am

    ps when I said sobriety, I was referring to Frey’s, not my husband’s – God forbid we should swear off the drink.

  • David Thayer // Jan 27, 2006 at 9:17 am

    The Frey Affair reveals more about the construct that memoir is history made personal than it does about the author. The currency of credentials, platforms, and hype buys publishers instant results, sales, but like instant potatoes, this leaves an aftertaste. Doubleday is stuck with Frey, who in turn, is an author so expertly branded that he now faces the worst possible future any writer could imagine. He has altered the playing field for memoir, destroyed his credibility, fractured the Oprah-Book continuum, kept Larry King up past his bedtime. I wonder what his new publisher will do with his manuscripts. Will anyone buy a James Frey novel a year from now?

  • Walt // Jan 27, 2006 at 9:32 am

    I’m not sure whether I am happy or sad that the SECOND memoir wasn’t talked about. That one starts off with him in jail, getting hit over the head with a food tray. If it had been mentioned on the show, it would have been promoted, and I wouldn’t have wanted that, but it might have been fodder for the Doubleday publishing person to defend an obviously fake memoir. Doubleday suspected the first memoir might have parts that were lies, but it’s now very apparent that the second book is 100% fiction.

  • Lorra // Jan 27, 2006 at 9:33 am

    Based on the Michael Jackson trial, I’d say Frey’s very next book will sell like a hotcake.

    But then, he’ll have to move to Afghanistan where I’m pretty sure they cut off your head for offenses a lot more minor than Frey has committed to date.

    Wow, That’s gonna’ smart!

    Lorra Laven

  • kirkb // Jan 27, 2006 at 11:21 am

    Gee, what do you think his next book might be about?

    Bet he’s back on Oprah promoting it.

  • SusanGable // Jan 28, 2006 at 8:16 am

    From what I’ve heard, it was a different James Frey who wrote the book about writing fiction.

    I didn’t feel too badly for him on Oprah. Actually, I thought she was kind of easy on him. Had I been running the interview, I think I’d have reduced him to tears. (I’m evil, I know.) It was just time to pay the piper for all the money he’s made off his lies.

    I’m glad that Oprah felt it was in her best interest to call him on the sofa, though.

  • jim // Jan 28, 2006 at 7:44 pm

    Somewhere — probably wherever it is in Hell that they keep the mescaline and firearms — Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Zeta Acosta are laughing their asses off.