Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The James Frey Question

These days, everyone's been all up in arms about the controversy, if you can call it that, of finding out that James Frey fabricated or exaggerated parts of his best-selling memoir, A Million Little Pieces. People like Oprah and the people involved in the ridiculous lawsuits against him have accused him of betraying his readers.

This really gets me - on Oprah, while she was apologizing for defending James Frey and making his book a part of her Book Club, she says she let the fact that so many people called and wrote in to say how much that book inspired them cloud her judgement. This was, of course, before she said James betrayed his readers. How, exactly, did he do that?

I mean, people enjoyed this book. Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+ grade and named it one of the best nonfiction books of the year. Millions of readers bought this book and let it change their lives. Does learning that he exaggerated parts of that negate those changes? People can be just as inspired and uplifted by fiction books (which are entirely fabricated, just so you don't get the wrong idea ^_^) than by nonfiction. True or false, this book was well-written enough to give millions of people a unique reading pleasure.

What bums me out are the lawsuits against him. One of the class-action lawsuits is sueing for damages for the money spent on the book and the time it took to read it. Excuse me? Why don't you just return the book to Chapters and get your $30 back? It's thirty dollars. And now they want compensation for the time they spent reading the book? What the hell? Why didn't they just put the book down in the middle of reading it? Could it be, because they enjoyed it? I don't see how learning a book is fabricated can turn that pleasurable reading experience into something bad. These are just people eager for a quick buck.

The second (of many) lawsuits against Frey says that if they'd known the book was fictional, they never would have bought it and read it in the first place. I don't see why this has to be fought about it court - just take the stupid book back, or give it away second-hand, or something. Greedy greedy greedy.

I dunno, as I writer (of fiction), I'm repulsed by the actions of these people who are sueing Frey.

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