Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Million Little Lies?

Whoa, hold up! Supa was just about to take her tired ass to bed, then stuck around for the late-breaking story on Anderson Cooper:

A Million Little Lies? : Exposing James Frey's Fiction Addiction (click here to read the story from Smoking Gun. Kinda lengthy)

Now, we all know James Frey. He's the dude who had Oprah and all of Harpo Productions crying and staying up nights because of his book. Supa is one of the three people on the Planet Earth who didn't read it... Well, I started reading, but didn't finish - the stark, rambling style in which it was written started off very intriguing, then grew tedious, in Supa's opinion. Plus she ended up seeing him featured on that Oprah episode, and found out how the darn thing ended anyway, so there you go. But I 'aint knocking his hustle, 'cause dude got so much publicity and hype, so many more projects that spun off this one manuscript, and basically, dude's gettin majorly pi-zaid. (PAID, for all you non Cali folks)

Now Supa read the Smoking Gun article, and doesn't care to get into all the (alleged) fabrications and inconsistencies revealed about Frey's story. (note: Frey will be on Larry King Live tomorrow, if you wanna hear his side) Dude gave a statement this evening proclaiming " let the haters hate, the doubters doubt, I stand by my book, and my life, and I won't dignify this bullshit with any sort of further response."

What Supa finds much more interesting, is the backlash this is bound to have in the literary community about blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction. When a writer publishes a memoir, the reading public is led to believe that the events spoken about are true. Not embellished, not fabricated. Right? Because otherwise - it's fiction.

As writers, we know what it is to "put extras on it," because that what we do, that's part of the craft. Supa thinks the lesson here is, if you do choose to put in the extras, embellish, whatever - best to create a character and publish it as fiction. That way, you've got the "based on true events" working in your favor. DO NOT attempt to market a memoir as a reality-based account because, as we see - if/when you blow up, folks will get all up in your shit, ask questions, fact-check, research, etc. and attempt to discredit and/or EXPOSE your supposed-memoir-writing behind!

Supa also finds it *interesting* that Frey's manuscript was initially turned down 17 times, when he was pitching it as a fiction novel...hmmm...Did he simply feel like it would sell better as a memoir, and kept all the over-the-top details in the final manuscript? What do ya'll think? And is this any different from rappers who embellish their rhymes and lyrics to sell records?


African girl, American world said...

Abso-fucking-lutely not! Exact same thing!

My take: if this was smoeone who sold 100,000 books, this wouldn't be a story. Must have been a slow ass news day.

I too ain't read the book but saw him on Aunty O's show.

Here's the thing with memoirs...your truth is your truth! What you saw and did could be seen very different by your Mama and em.

it is quite questionable that he tried to sell it as fiction but again we LOVE a 'He Made Out' kind of story on any day.

Probably a publisher that told him it was good but needed someone real for readers to relate to which probably was met with a well this really happened to me.

And I must add...when you decide to go the fiction route you still have problems...remember Terry's babydaddy and Disappearing Acts?

great way to start my morning SS - thanks!

Anonymous said...

I know...it's a trip. Makes you wonder just how much of that stuff in all those other "Memoirs" were true. I personally don't read the things...unless they are by Maya Angelou or someone like so.

That's an interesting point you made about how the manu had been turned down 17 times as FICTION, but was picked up as a memoir. These publishing houses are so pressured to generate that "Superhead"/Harry Potter interest and sell copies that they will do anything to make that success happen. Memoirs apparently have been the #1 selling books for the past decade. So, I am sure someone along the line figured out that a memoir about a drugged addicted, redeemed white man would surely take off. Damn. Our entire "culture" in this country is being eaten up that celebrity, (faux) reality-tv, entertainment-but-no-educational-value demon. Everyone just wants to be entertained - regardless of quality, value or ethics - and the old systems previously devoted to challenging the minds of society (e.g. literature) are just following suit. This nation will soon be (if not already is) a nation of idiots. God truly bless America.

Sorry for the rant, but damn...it's pathetic to see how this country is falling apart. I call it the chickens coming home to roost...for so long, this country despised, discounted, discriminated against, tried to destroy, dissed a "certain" group of people, which produced a certain subsection of society. Now, the entire nation has been
"n!gga-cized," as I like to call it and wants to do and act and be as ignorant as possible. I think Malcolm said it best..."the chickens coming home to roost."

OK. Done wit' my BP party bit for the year:D


Dizzy said...

As someone who dabbles in writing, I would be offended by someone who tried to pass some lies as the truth. Integrity is very important as a writer and once it's tarnished it's really hard to get back, see Mr. Blair. I have not read the book and don't plan on reading it, fiction, non-fiction, or memoirs!

And as we all should know that the music industrity sold it's soul a long time ago, so there is no integrity there!!

Supa said...

Mwabi - you bring up an interesting point.

I agree when you say "your truth is your truth", and it may be different than from what others remember or perceive. That's totally understandable and even expected..

But when you start to embellish on EVENTS and DETAILS that can actually be verified, and aren't up to "perception" - like claiming you were beat down by a cop, when in REALITY there is a police report that says you were merely warned and given a citation - THAT'S crossing the line. Details like that aren't "perception or memory" - that's an actual event. And when you start using your "artistic license" to alter details like that - well, I think that goes to a writer's integrity.

Tell us how you felt, how it affected you, etc., but don't be makin' up shit just for shock value.

Just like these rappers - you know you 'aint been shot at or done any time, you 'aint gangsta, n!gga we grew up on the same block & you went to private school and were in the chess club. Fool, sit down.

I can't wait for Frey's appearance tonight. I wanna see if he's got actual proof to back up what he says is true. He said he gathered all those documents (police reports, rehab notes) while writing his book.

Supa said...

Cocoa Girl - You okay on the BP rant, I'm feeling ya! lol

So true. In the era of Supaheadho and Fitty writing books, I mean, folks want to read over-the-top, salacious type ish and want to believe that's someone's reality..

When I first heard about Frey's memoir, I thought he was a brotha...I mean, a white dude addicted to crack? C'mon. Come to find out this was your average middle-class white dude who liked to get high, whose mommy and daddy could afford to put him up in one of the most renowned rehab clinics in the nation.

Almost made me wanna take my local crackhead to Starbucks so I could talk to him/her and get a truer-to-life addiction story.

But yeah - a n*ggacized nation. Sad. Those chickens sure are roostin' LOUD, aren't they!

Closet Owner said...

I hope all the book reading people read this post, and hear about homie fabing "the life story".

To many people put to much credit in what they read.

I dont think that is where you was going with this post but, i had other issues on my mind.

Supa said...

@ Dizzy - Amen.

@ Closet Owner - Welcome! Appreciate the input. No worries, feel free to rant, voice, veer off topic, whateva!

Dee said...


Rappers are "story-telling" so to speak........he was supposedly telling "his story"........what a fake................I wonder what Ms O has to say...........I picked it up SEVERAL times and opted for another book each time!!!!!! You know when you are on a hellauva budget you can ONLY get one book at a time...............

Takeitoutside said...

I saw this on the news yesterday. I remember seeing that O-please episode. It's not a book I would pick up, but the way she was gushing over it was kinda ridiculous.

Ja said...

Okay let's just call a spade a spade. If your shit is fiction, publish it as fiction. If your game is tight it's going to sell. If not...oh well. There's nothing worse than getting caught in a bunch of lies. Face it, you can only carry around a wet bag of shit for so long before the bottom falls out.

Does anyone else smell Jason Blair in the area? Sniff...sniff. I smell shit.

New years resolution number 1 - give up profanity.

Anonymous said...

OMGosh...did ya'll hear...they're giving people refunds for the book!


Supa said...

JA - "I smell shit" lol You stupid!

CG - What?? When??? Where!!???

I've read some additional articles - this dude got some 'splainin' to do....

Single Ma said...

Here's the article about the refund. Note: refunds are granted only to those who purchased the book directly from the publisher.

I think it's a shame dude had to lie, but I gotta give it to him. "Best seller" (1.77 million copies) never equates to the most truthful. Hell, I've seen many personal finance books dissected to the grissel (lol can't you tell i want some chicken wings) but certain authors know how to embellish shyt to make it sell. It's up to the reader to know BS when they smell it.

sexy petite diva said...

as a non writer, i can appreciate the concerns of staying true to your craft and the conseqences of straying. Being a avid reader and a concerned citizen it was a fascinating read and touched the hearts of many people who have addicts (past or current) in their lives.

when you do your "memiors" i'm take all that i know to the grave so for future reference "it wasn't me!"