So I was fortunate enough to catch the James Frey interview on Larry King Live last night.Â When the camera first panned to Frey, the poor guy looked like a deer caught in headlights.Â I seriously felt for the guy and am glad it wasn’t me.
The interview wasn’t what I had hoped.Â My expectations were that Frey would arm himself with enough documentation to at least disprove a small portion of TSG’s allegations.Â Rather, James had prepared a statement (a statement that he made at leastÂ a dozen times throughout the interview) that he stands by his book and his life and that a relatively small portion of certain truths in the book were altered or changed to protect names, for literary reasons, etc.
So honestly, I was a little disappointed.Â While I think James is right; even if every questionable detail in the book was proven to be false, the story is about drug and alcohol addiction and this portion of the story remains unchanged, I also think there’s something to be said about how this impacts the rest of the story and even portions of the next book.Â
For me, this book was not completely about drug and alcohol addiction — I’ve lived that life.Â Been there, done that. My interests were in how James has taken these experiences and written them into bestselling works and of course, how he has managed to convey the addict lifestyle (practicing or not) to those who are otherwise completely unaware.Â His writing style, his ability to recall certain details, and his ability to flatly lay out such profound introspect — these are the things that kept me interested and kept me reading.Â I would love, love to write a book about my experiences with Heroin, but there’s not a snowball’s chance that I’d be able to recall any such ideaÂ or details, let alone come close to what James has accomplished.
To now learn that one side of Frey’s spectrum was not as deeply far-seeded as I had originally thought makes little difference in my appreciation of James’ abilities.Â What does bother me about this is that I’m now leftÂ curious aboutÂ parts of his latest work, My Friend Leonard.Â I liked this one better, personally.Â This book is less about drug addiction and more about life, but now I’m questioning some of my favorite aspectsÂ in the story line.Â So I guess my question to James is, if this latest book is a work of fiction orÂ classified as a memoir?
I was definitely surprised to hear from the Larry King/Frey interview that certain things quoted and reprinted on the website of TSG were supposedly relayed by Frey in confidence and off the record.Â This means TSG is asking me to trust the word of an organization that already proves themselves to be untrustworthy.Â I’ve always been a big fan of TSG and think it’s unfortunate they’re unwilling to play by the same rules they’re out to protect.Â
I think James bringing his mother on Larry King was a big mistake.Â I would’ve much rather heard from his publisher or editor rather than what I already and immediately know is going to be a supportive word from a family member.Â Is your mother going to appear with you on a national program and saying anything unbiased?Â
I also think James’ repeated refusal to respond to specific TSG allegations made him look bad.Â While I can understand that Frey has everything to lose by responding, it’s that very reason that I personally find his refusal troubling.
My biggest disappointment was Frey’s comment that he would never write about himself again.Â This is also sends out a questionable message, in my humble opinion, and I’m definitely sorry to hear it if not simply for the selfish reason of not being able to read another ‘My Friend Leonard’ or ‘A Million Little Pieces’.Â Only time and new works will tell…
Finally, Oprah’s call into the show in support of the book was well-timed, waiting until Frey’s position was made and then making her statement, “Although some of the facts have been questioned … that underlying message of the redemption of James Frey still resonates with me, and I know that it resonates with millions of other people who have read the book.”Â I’m definitely curious as to whether or not this will be the only call by Oprah to Frey concerning the book and his appearance on her show.
Ultimately, I’m still a big fan of James Frey.Â I think the guy has a lot to offer and I’m definitely impressed that he had the balls to show up on Larry King and defend himself against allegations and organizations that have such significant media backing.Â While I’ve never been a subscriber to his theory andÂ message concerning drug and alcohol addiction being simply a weakness and nothing more, I’m definitely a fan of his abilities to leave such things behindÂ and then turn them into pure, solid gold in the process.Â Â Don’t we all wish it on ourselves…