Monday, January 30, 2006

James Frey back on Oprah

The Smoking Gun revealed the details of some exaggerations in James Frey's memoir A Million Little Pieces earlier this month. As I've said, I'm currently reading Pieces, and I'm reading it because of Oprah's selection of the title for her book club, but I'm still reading it, even knowing what I know now.

On Thursday's program, Oprah had a further interview with James Frey, confronting him directly about the discrepancies in the book. I finally got a chance to watch the show over the weekend.

The greatest outright fabrication is the claim that Frey spent 87 days in jail, when in fact it was less than a single afternoon. The infamous "root canal without anesthetic" scene is also under question, some of the confrontations among patients at the rehab center were exaggerated, and other details were muddied.

I agree with Oprah that the book should be relabeled, "based on a true story," but I stand by my earlier statement that the core elements of James Frey's experience of addiction and rehab strike me as authentic on an emotional level. That's not to diminish the importance of the truth, especially since it is a central theme in Pieces, but simply to say we should not toss the book out as useless just because it was shamefully overhyped.