Monday, January 09, 2006

Freyed at the edges

The appeal of drugs and our cultural fascination with drug abuse is such that author James Frey is making a very good living by flogging his past as a drug abuser and criminal.

I suppose why he’s doing this is clear enough. His book has been at the top of the non-fiction bestseller list since October, thanks especially to help from Oprah Winfrey, who has made his book A Million Little Pieces part of her book club.

However, an investigation by The Smoking Gun reveals that Frey is probably not all he appears to be.

What’s funny is that TheSmokingGun’s investigation into Frey’s past began with a mug shot. TSG collects mug shots, particularly funny mug shots and mug shots of celebrities. When they first started to look into Frey, all they wanted was a mug shot to add to their rather impressive collection.

But it didn’t work out that way. As they looked into the difficulties with the police that Frey wrote about so vividly, they found that his supposed autobiography was full of half-truths and straight-up lies.

I am really fascinated with non-fiction books and documentaries that turn out to be misleading and full of lies and The Smoking Gun’s report can be read as nothing but a brutal smackdown of Frey’s book. A look at the real Licking County, Ohio jail, for instance, reveals that the details of Frey’s description of the place, down to the color of the jumpsuits is wrong. What Frey describes as a grand criminal probe involving the FBI, his arresting officer calls “college kids doing dope.” The same officer denies ever working with the FBI.

Anyway, I found The Smoking Gun’s Report a captivating read and I recommend it.

CC

3 comments:

UUpdater said...

Reposting links to Smoking gun that didn't work for me:

" particularly funny mug shots and mug shots of celebrities. When they first started to look into Frey, all they wanted was a mug shot to add to their rather impressive collection"

Chalicechick said...

I fixed them. Thanks!

S

LaReinaCobre said...

I find the whole thing strangely funny. Wow - he's a liar!

Be wary. Recently, a friend sent me the article posted here: Ingagi, a film from 1930, was the false "documentary" about gorillas mating with black African women, peddled as truth to the public (so willing to be scandalized).

As my one friend put it, people should be more upset about the lies in their history books.