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Posts: 442
Registered: ‎04-07-2007
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#19 James Frey, addicts, liars and the truth

[ Edited ]

Dear Book Explorers:


I read a lot – and I mean a lot. As the editorial director of the Literary Ventures Fund I have to keep up with what’s going on in the world of books. I read manuscripts that publishers and agents send me, I get sent advance reading copies of new books or pick them up at various publishing related events, I get books from authors who have been abandoned by their publishers one way or another (NOTE TO AUTHORS: do not send me books/manuscripts as LVF works directly with publishers. If you have a publisher, invite them to do so.)


I just read an extraordinary book in manuscript form that was sent by its publisher for funding consideration. I hope we can be involved because this book is one of the most amazing, exciting ones I’ve read in years. And, well, I read a lot. I cannot tell you the name of the book or the author until we explore and finalize a publishing agreement. But I can tell you this. I could not put it down. I mean stayinguphalfthe nightcouldn’tputitdown. It has the great writing, tension and scope of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, which makes my all time favorite JUST READ IT list.


And what is it about?  The heart of the story is about a married couple and a parallel universe of truly despicable junkies who live in squat housing. Doesn’t sound appetizing, does it? Well, it is. It is a tour de force and I can assure you that as soon as I can tell you more fully about this book I will.


So there I was with a head full of junkie culture when I went into Starbuck’s to buy espresso beans. There was its current book pick on display -- Beautiful Boy, the true-life story by a father who pulled his son back from the jaws of addiction. I got back home and guess what news arrived this morning in a publishing email blast? “Press shy” James Frey is back with a novel called Bright Shiny Morning, comes out on May 13th, and is doing limited media appearances. Remember him: he was the guy who snookered his publishing company and Oprah with A Million Little Pieces, his memoir of his addicted life that was found to be fabricated (though he claimed to have told his publisher ahead of time that parts of it were fictionalized).


Anyway, I am not here to pass judgment on anyone’s lifestyle or addictions of the harmful variety though I will say it’s a really bad idea to cause damage to yourself or others. Feel free to comment on talented addicted authors or great reads where the characters are junkies (Drugstore Cowboy anyone?).


For today I am more concerned with the truth. I don’t cut those who misrepresent themselves or plagiarize any slack. Even the prize-winning famous historian/authors who claim their researchers “accidentally” lifted others’ words. And what about the mini-epidemic of late of authors pretending to have been victimized by the Nazis or living in squalor on the west coast.


I was a journalist for a long time and the concept of truth is very clear and concrete to me. But that’s me. In the judgment-free zone of the Book Explorers Club you get to have your say. So tell me:


Does it bother you to find out that someone made up a story or parts of it that was suppose to be true?


Do you feel betrayed as a reader?


Or do you feel that a good story is a good story no matter what?



Message Edited by ande on 05-05-2008 02:13 PM
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Posts: 9
Registered: ‎10-19-2007
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Re: #19 James Frey, addicts, liars and the truth

Oh -- now he wants us to buy another book of his. How about if he hands them out for free and we'll think about it.
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
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Re: #19 James Frey, addicts, liars and the truth

A good story is fine if it is under fiction. But I do not like non-fiction books that are exaggerated or even made up. If someone's true life story or experience isn't enough to interest a publisher then so be it. I am very suspicious of the rash of memoirs that are on the market now. For instance, i did really enjoy " The Glass Castle " and " Three Cups of Tea " but I can't help but wonder at the details. How does someone remember conversations or thoughts that they has years ago in such detail? Maybe if they have been  keeping a journal, but it just seems to me to be more along the lines of taking creative liberties in their writing.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...