Frey gets fried

Categories: Books
jamesfrey.jpg
Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors, among other memoirs, might not have had that Santa Claus-looking kook of a caretaker he claimed he did. And local writer Nicole Lea Helget, author of The Summer of Ordinary Ways, might not have been a progeny of a mentally ill father who once killed a cow. Questions surrounding recent memoirs' authenticity haven't hurt book sales (or movie deals), though certain literary circles have shunned both Burroughs and Helget for fictionalizing certain aspects of their "memoirs" like repressive parents banned Paul Reubens in the 90s for porning up his mid-afternoons in Florida theaters.

James Frey, author of the million-selling addiction memoir A Million Little Pieces, is also taking a beating for allegedly fabricating his memoir, and he can't claim this one caused him to loose his teeth and show up on a cross-country flight looking like he'd been dipped in a vat of human excrement: Forget waiting for any reaction from Oprah Winfrey and the Harpo employees who got all teary-eyed and sychophantic when an oddly stoic and visibly uncomfortable Frey appeared on Oprah in October after The Op selected the memoir for her book club; it's those in recovery who became part of the thousands of Frey followers and enthusiasts who have been quick to publicly criticize Frey and admit they feel the most betrayed by the author's supposed embellishments.

For those of you who have read the memoir (teary-eyed Harpo employees included!), here are a few questions: Were his stories about what he encountered at Hazelden believable to begin with? Why would a dentist doing a root canal deny Frey novocaine? Like it'd really have an adverse affect on his recovery? Friggin' NOVOCAINE? Who's ever heard of a novocaine junkie? Did any of this seem credible to begin with?

And is it of any real consequence if parts are fictionalized? If a memoirist uses a skeleton of their life to tell their story, filling in with embellished bits that lead to the next chapter of their life, does it really matter if, in the end, they end up in the same place? Does it matter if they got there by spending three days in jail or three months? Or is Frey, who has been an inspiration for numerous addicts, immoral for fabricating parts of his story?

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