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Oprah Book Club Fraud?
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trailhound Original Post: Jan 09 '06,  10:29 am           Reply
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Member since: May 21, 2004

Post: 38917
Oprah Book Club Fraud?

The Smoking Gun website is reporting that a popular book recommended by Oprah, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, is full of lies, distortions, and inaccuracies. Anyone else hear about this? He better run for the border if it's true. -Dave

     
pearannoyed Posted: Jan 09 '06,  11:10 am           Reply
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Post: 38923
RE: Oprah Book Club Fraud?

Quote: trailhound
The Smoking Gun website is reporting that a popular book recommended by Oprah, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, is full of lies, distortions, and inaccuracies. Anyone else hear about this? He better run for the border if it's true. -Dave


I haven't actually read it myself, but it was my understanding that A Million Little Pieces was a novelization of Frey's struggle with drug addiction. I see now that it was meant as a memoir which, indeed, makes him a fraud.

Had he billed it instead as being a novel based on actual events, he'd be safe now as a novel, by definition, is a work of fiction. Too bad for him that he tried to grab for the whole enchilada when all he ordered was a burrito a la carte.

Amy
     
panguitch Posted: Jan 09 '06,  11:43 am           Reply
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moderator in Books, Magazines & Newspapers
Post: 38926
RE: Oprah Book Club Fraud?

There's a bit of a trend to fictionalize memoirs. Autobiography has never been the most trustworthy of genres, and there's always a question of just how much a person says about themselves should be considered fiction.

But increasingly I hear about personal narratives and memoirs fudging and inventing things for the sake of sensationalizing and sales. The authors aren't always apologetic, either. Some consider the personal memoir more a work of art than of history.


-Andy

     
trailhound Posted: Jan 09 '06,  2:26 pm (Updated: Jan 09 '06,  2:40 pm)           Reply
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Member since: May 21, 2004

Post: 38960
RE: Oprah Book Club Fraud?

Quote: pearannoyed
I haven't actually read it myself, but it was my understanding that A Million Little Pieces was a novelization of Frey's struggle with drug addiction.
Amy


Quote: panguitch
.
But increasingly I hear about personal narratives and memoirs fudging and inventing things for the sake of sensationalizing and sales.

-Andy


Thanks for clarifying what may have happened. I guess these 'memoirs' should be taken with a grain of salt. -Dave
     
lambchops Posted: Jan 11 '06,  12:24 pm           Reply
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Post: 39178
RE: Oprah Book Club Fraud?

I think it's hilarious--I particularly like how his stories don't at all jive with police reports which list his as drunk but very cooperative. I must admit I haven't read the book, but it seems that Frey may have read a bit too much Irvine Welsh or Hunter S. Thompson or something. Who knows.

INteresting stuff at the Smoking Gun.

     
lyagushka Posted: Jan 14 '06,  7:22 pm           Reply
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Post: 39733
RE: Oprah Book Club Fraud?

I'm reminded of Julie Powell's disclaimer at the beginning of her Julie & Julia memoir that included the line, "Also, sometimes I just made sh*t up." In retrospect, it seems like a smart move on her part to let her readers know up front that her memoir was part truth, and part artistic license. Reading her book, it didn't matter too much to me what was cold hard fact and was embellishment. I liked her writing and the story she told. But at least I knew ahead of time that some of what I would be reading wasn't be true. I don't think anyone can complain in that case.

     
brotherman Posted: Jan 16 '06,  6:33 pm           Reply
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Member since: Nov 4, 1999

Post: 39959
Oprah's new pick

Is night , Eli Wiesel's holocaust memoir

A wonderful choice.

     
lambchops Posted: Jan 17 '06,  1:25 pm           Reply
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Member since: Jan 4, 2001

Post: 40043
Indeed...

Night is a fabulous choice, my only fear is that people will just pick it up because it is short & expect a "light read." Night is anything but...I'm not sure it's the kind of fare Oprah's audience will enjoy. Then again, this is the woman who chose the Sound and the Fury.

     
trailhound Posted: Jan 17 '06,  5:14 pm           Reply
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Member since: May 21, 2004

Post: 40062
Oprah's latest

Quote: lambchops
I'm not sure it's the kind of fare Oprah's audience will enjoy.


I just think it's odd to go from a profanity- filled 'memoir' about drug addiction to a serious, contemplative book about ethics, justice etc...
Can you say whiplash? -Dave
     
brotherman Posted: Jan 17 '06,  8:23 pm           Reply
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Member since: Nov 4, 1999

Post: 40073
RE: Indeed...

Still there will be a wide audience, because even though the response to Faulkner was Tepid for Oprah Standards, the 3 book series still sold 300,000 copies.

     
brotherman Posted: Jan 26 '06,  6:03 pm           Reply
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Member since: Nov 4, 1999

Post: 41785
her show today

Good lawd, she put the smack down on him today.

     
sleeper54 Posted: Jan 27 '06,  6:22 am           Reply
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Post: 41855
RE: her show today

Quote: brotherman
Good lawd, she put the smack down on him today.


Did she confront him on the show..? Or simply address thoughts to her audience/viewers..??

It was a little unclear from the 'news snippets' that I heard.



...tom...
.
     
pvreditor Posted: Jan 27 '06,  6:43 am (Updated: Jan 27 '06,  7:30 am)           Reply
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Member since: May 31, 2002

moderator in Musical Equipment, Home & Garden, Cars
Post: 41859
RE: her show today

Quote: sleeper54
Did she confront him on the show..? Or simply address thoughts to her audience/viewers..??

Oprah Winfrey definitely confronted Frey on the show and made him squirm. She blasted the publisher, too (who was also there).

Some of this is the pot calling the kettle black. Television news has reported extensively about the Frey affair and now there's some hand-wringing about how publishers don't check the veracity of books purported to be memoirs. My experience is that the TV news people themselves are not big on the whole veracity thing. Sordid details have become the story for most news organizations and they crawl over each other to be the first in line to report them.

I'm not trying to defend this Frey guy, who seems to have written a dubious memoir in order to make it more marketable. And if it casts a cold light on other memoirs, maybe that's a good thing. However, the rush to report it on television strikes me as unseemly, considering the fast-and-loose nature of the "truth" on TV news.

--Bob
     
panguitch Posted: Jan 27 '06,  1:06 pm           Reply
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moderator in Books, Magazines & Newspapers
Post: 41902
Oprah calling the kettle black

Here's a huge irony for you:

Oprah has disavowed this guy's memoir, but Martha Beck, one of Oprah's chums and a columnist both for O Magazine and Oprah's website, has published at least two memoirs, both riddled with falsehoods. Her accounts have been contested by every member of her family and by her ex-husband. (Her ex-husband actually says that she wrote her first memoir as fiction, but it was continually rejected until she claimed, without making significant changes, that it was non-fiction.)

But since her lies can't be revealed as easily as this guy's were with police records, I don't expect Oprah to stop perpetrating this gross double-standard. (Though she did scale back her promotion of Beck's book, she continues to feature Beck.)

Bottom line for me: always keep a sliver of doubt when reading autobiography. And if the author calls it a memoir, treat it with outright skepticism. People don't always tell the truth when they're talking about themselves. They're even more likely to lie when they put it in writing.

-Andy

     
WilliamJones Posted: Jan 27 '06,  5:32 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 156
Member since: Sep 24, 2000

Post: 41931
Great Television

I watched the Oprah show yesterday. It was brutal, yet riveting.

I don't know this Frey guy. If A Million Little Pieces is anything like his second book (My Friend Leonard, which I perused), I'm not interested.

The question of what, exactly, constitutes a memoir hasn't been resolved to my satisfaction. If you look at Chuck Barris's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (which I own), on the back cover you'll see Memoir/Film to the left of the price. As well as the following: "Chuck Barris is a former television executive and host of The Gong Show. He is the author of several books and is currently writing a sequel to his memoir."

So there, again, is that word: memoir.

If you're familiar with the book, you know that in it Barris claims he was a CIA agent and has a number of kills under his belt. No one I know believes this to be true. Still, it's amusing.

Admittedly, Frey's embellishments are less amusing.

     
pearannoyed Posted: Jan 27 '06,  9:43 pm (Updated: Jan 27 '06,  9:44 pm)           Reply
Reviews written: 197
Member since: Oct 3, 2003

Post: 41948
RE: Great Television

Quote: WilliamJones
Barris claims he was a CIA agent and has a number of kills under his belt. No one I know believes this to be true. Still, it's amusing.

Admittedly, Frey's embellishments are less amusing.


Here's my take... if Barris was actually nuts to the point that he believes he was a CIA agent (or believed it at the time), then it's a memoir. Memoir = memories... and everyone knows that memory sucks, is open to interpretation, and is often an unreliable witness. Still, a memoir is allegedly a record of things the way the author saw them.

On the other hand, Frey clearly didn't believe the things he wrote in the book. He originally shopped it as fiction, ergo, not a memoir.

It's one thing to leave out the boring bits. It's another thing altogether to invent stuff just to make it more interesting.
     
WilliamJones Posted: Jan 28 '06,  2:34 pm (Updated: Jan 28 '06,  4:12 pm)           Reply
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Member since: Sep 24, 2000

Post: 41991
Barris Not Nuts

I don't think it's a question of Barris being crazy, of him believing he was a CIA agent.

It's either true or he made it up. The latter seems more likely.

Barris, unlike Frey, was smart enough to make something up that's difficult to disprove.

It doesn't bother me that they label Confessions of a Dangerous Mind memoir, as that seems a better fit than fiction.

Nobody complained about "Confessions" because we know Barris from The Gong Show, we know the guy's a goof, and we know he's out to make us laugh.

Frey, on the other hand, comes out of nowhere and uses Oprah to become famous ("When I walk into Random House, they treat me like a rock star"). Of course people are going to be pissed off.

     
bkfdmom Posted: Mar 29 '06,  4:31 am           Reply
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Post: 51198
Oprah and Frey

The sad thing to me is that everyone rushes to buy a book that O.W says is so good. Can't we make up our mind, or do we need her to OK everything we do in life? We've made her a guru, and this man just took advantage of her arrogance. I loved it when she complained to Larry King that she couldn't get through his phone lines when Frey was on, then when she was on, she gushed all over Frey as to how wonderful his book was, and that she wasn't put off by the bad publicity. (A week later, she was sorry about all of that, and was against Frey). Such is life, but how sad that such an event is considered news.

     
pvreditor Posted: Mar 29 '06,  6:56 am           Reply
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moderator in Musical Equipment, Home & Garden, Cars
Post: 51207
RE: Oprah and Frey

Quote: bkfdmom
The sad thing to me is that everyone rushes to buy a book that O.W says is so good. Can't we make up our mind, or do we need her to OK everything we do in life? We've made her a guru, and this man just took advantage of her arrogance. I loved it when she complained to Larry King that she couldn't get through his phone lines when Frey was on, then when she was on, she gushed all over Frey as to how wonderful his book was, and that she wasn't put off by the bad publicity. (A week later, she was sorry about all of that, and was against Frey). Such is life, but how sad that such an event is considered news.

The sad thing is how mindless the cult of celebrity is, at least in the US. It's possibly even worse in the UK.

I was on the Oprah Winfrey Show twice in 1996. Not as an audience member, but someone that Winfrey interviewed on the air, if only for a minute or so. First of all, Winfrey is attractive and an excellent performer. She is funny, fast on her feet and knows when things are going right and wrong. It was impressive to watch her work and I've been around my share of radio and television professionals.

The first show, she wore a nice suit that did all the right things for her. Great choice. The second show, she wore a knit dress that most definitely did not do all the right things for her. She walked into the studio a couple minutes before taping started and, among other things, asked the audience what it thought of her outfit, doing a little twirl to show the dress off. The audience let out a big whoop of approval -- everyone but me. (Maybe that's why there's been no third appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show!) I couldn't believe how sycophantic these people were, right out of the emperor's new clothes. I thought the dress was akin to posting a sign on her back that said, "Look at my big butt!"

Seeing that, it does not surprise me that there are people who have nothing better to do than buy Oprah Winfrey's choices for books.

Just a small slice of celebrity...

--Bob
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