Out of the Freying Pan and Into the Fire

Oprah just said that she doesn’t want kudos for admitting she was wrong because it was the only thing to do, and that was after cutting off Nan Talese mid-sentence. (Nan Talese is not the kind of person who is used to be cut off mid-sentence – she’s a Senior VP of Doubleday and owns her own imprint there). But Oprah is angry, and James Frey is starting to feel like the meat industry, I bet.

Frank Rich is angry, too, and just pointed out that being honest is usually the first step in any addiction recovery journey.

Stanley Crouch wants to know how much Doubleday had to do with coercing Frey into publishing it as a memoir.

And Maureen Down suggested Oprah cast Frey out of her kingdom.

A journalism professor (whose name I didn’t catch) just pointed out that when you doubt one memoir, you start to distrust them all; as someone who has put the truth of my life on the line, I really resent James Frey and even more the slick rationalizations of Nan Talese. Her attitude is exactly what sucks about the publishing industry.

Granted, our whole culture cries out for sensationalism: they don’t want to hear one woman’s story of pregnancy and childbirth; they want the post-natally depressed nearly-killed-her-baby mother. More than once members of the media (okay, including a producer from Oprah) stopped being interested in our story because Betty hasn’t had “the operation.”

So this is what I think: Nan Talese and Frey should figure out how much money they made from bullshitting everyone, and they should give it back. There are definitely 12-step programs that need funding and tons of individuals who could use some money to re-start lives that addiction has made a mess of.

And I know there are memoir writers out there that could use a grant. I just know it.

4 Replies to “Out of the Freying Pan and Into the Fire”

  1. “The reason the 12 step program works is that it is self supporting through it’s own contributions there by avioding entangling alliances.And lastly annonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditons which reminds us to place principles before personalities.” Beverly L

  2. Helen,
    Until the media starts rating memoirs for believability like Fox lusts to post the Terror Alert level, I think the public will continue to accept writers as invariably telling the truth. And evincing honesty certainly is one of your strongest suits.

  3. I beleive that much fuss has been made about nothing essentially. James Frey wrote an entertaining account of his life made even more exciting by the embelishments. My life as a TS is so full of lies and deceit that I could no more condemn Frey for his embellishments than I could myself for everything I have ever falsely presented as fact. People lie even when they say they are telling the truth, we need to accept that.

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