James Frey Message Board
malin posts on 8/22/2007 8:47:25 AM
oh my, the only thing i wanted to say is that without me ever heard about james fray before i picked up amlp about two weeks ago is that this book was amazing, fiction or memoir, for me it doesn't matter. the only thing that matters to me is that i have just read the best book in my life and it made me feel something.. thank you james
DJ posts on 8/20/2007 1:40:37 PM
Nina - all I can say is ditto. You're right, we're all different, we all feel differently, and different things work for different people. I do feel I understand your point of view better now, even if we disagree. Thanks.
jennifer posts on 8/20/2007 1:54:13 AM
When AMLP was all the rage from Oprah, I had to go read it....i did, and i loved it, loved it. I thought his story was amazing and it opened my eyes to those with addiction. I have never battled addiction, and have never appreciated those who have. After reading this book i looked at the world with a bit more understanding and with my eyes a little more open. When all the drama came out about it not being so much a memoir, as a novel "based on true events", I was not enraged at all. yes, he should have been more honest with it, but I feel the message Frey conveyed, the story he shared, was and still is real. I never thought much more of it, if anything, felt bad for this man, for everyone coming down on him so hard.
That was months ago that i read that book, and i just bought the "My Friend Leonard" recently. I picked it up and could not put it down until it was finished. when i was done, i was sad, for one reason only. It again, was an AMAZING book. I don't care if it's a memoir or a novel "based on true events". Frey is an exceptional writer. he writes from his heart, and it's like you're in his brain. I sat there, engrossed in this novel, celebrating his sobriety, mourning his struggles. Throughout the book, I laughed outloud, cried, yelled, yelled...at the book. It was amazing. I hope James Frey is no longer taking such criticism from everyone. At the end of the day, what matters is that this is a man who pulled himself up from near death and became a successful, good person.
nina posts on 8/19/2007 12:16:12 PM
DJ, we obviously feel differently about this isuue. I read AMLP when it first came out, and as I said, I loved it. I still think it is a great book for the message it conveys. My sobriety has come as a result of the great few friends and family members I am lucky to have. And the hard work that I have done to achieve it. Not the same one thing works for all of us. I don't "judge" James Frey. That is not what I am doing here. What I am doing is observing what has transpired, that's all. I am not saying that James Frey is a bad person. What I am looking at is the black and white of it. Either something is true, or it is not. A lot of what is in this book I'm sure occured in some way or another, that's fine, I understand changing some things around to either protect people, or make it a bit more interesting. But to completely fabricate something, i.e the dentist visit, is not based on memory, rather is based on imagination. Not what a memoir is about. And he was clearly asked about that incident on Oprah, and went on about it as though it really happened. So yes, I feel lied to. I felt such sorrow for him when I read that. I felt endeared to him, I wanted to help him. Then to hear him say that it never happened.... Well, I could go on, but I think that I will just wish for the you the best of continued sobriety, and a wonderful,happy, and peaceful sober life.
Best Regards, Nina.
DJ posts on 8/18/2007 4:47:05 PM
Well Nina, as an alcoholic in recovery myself, I also know that for many addicts honesty is a big part of the process - in terms of not lying about your addiction to yourself or to others. James never lied about his addiction. I didn't really care that much, so I don't really recall the details of the "lies", but I do recall that Lily did not apparently commit suicide as he had described. So my question is why it makes a difference whether she died by hanging or by drowning or by shooting herself. She committed suicide - and the details don't need to be anyone's business but her family's and her friend's. I don't remember the dates or the even the year I was molested by the family minister. If I were to write about it, my best guesstimate would probably be a "lie", but it doesn't change the far more important fact that the molestation happened, and that it had far reaching emotional effects.
As a fledgling author myself, I must also disagree that any author spends months (more likely years) knowing that you are going to profit financially, with deception or otherwise. It's far more likely that book you've poured your heart and soul into is going to end up in a bottom drawer. An author writes to discover their emotional truth, and James skill is in laying open his heart completely and revealing his emotional truth for the world to see and to judge. Every author deals with the emotional vulnerability of having their work judged, and judged harshly by some. Think about the difference between emotional truth and "factual" truth.
I would also agree with Jan that on the rare occasions when you eventually find a publisher who has the vision to see the emotional truth in your writing (of any kind) you have very few decisions you are allowed to make - especially with books that don't fall into clearly defined category rules which the publishing industry dictates. I suspect MLP originally fell between categories, and he was told to rewrite it to make it conform to a category they wanted it to conform to. I have never heard that he "wanted" to sell it as a memoir - very few authors know or care where their books fit into a category - but I do tend to agree with Jan on this one too - as I recall he initially wanted to sell it as fiction, in order to protect people he knew. I know I would have.
I find your comments interesting - that you loved the book but you judge the author. I've found this to be a not uncommon theme, especially among addicts. If that's what it takes, that's great. I know that for me, the reason it took me so long to recover, which I'm now doing on my own with the help of good friends, was because of the extreme levels of judgement and non-acceptance I found in various groups. I needed love and acceptance of my weaknesses and my emotional scars in order to move beyond them. Judging anything has never worked for me.
I also have found that another issue that has always derailed me in the past has been trying to live up to the unrealistically high expectations of other people. I couldn't, so I'd just stop trying. I hope you've been able to find people who live up to your expectations. My experience is that most people are as fallible as I am in their own ways.
I guess my bottom line is that I praise the book as the most incredibly emotional book I have ever read, among other things, and I praise the author for his courage in writing at all and his courage in revealing his emotional truths for the world to judge. I accept him for his humanity in acknowledging the same fallability most of us have. Only God is perfect! The rest of us are doing the best we can.
nina posts on 8/18/2007 9:22:18 AM
The only way that a publisher, or anyone for that matter, believes that something is true, is if you tell them it is, or by seeing to for themsleves. In reality what happened is that he was turned down by publishers multiple times because he wanted to sell it as a memoir. Finally, someone took the bate. I too enjoyed reading this book, I LOVED IT. I recommended it to many people. None of that changes what I have said in previous posts. James Frey has apparently been sober fo more than a decade, and still has not learned how to stop lying, which all of us who are addicts know how to do VERY convincingly. I think if people have gotten help from reading this book, that is wonderful. Praise the book for what it is, and not James Frey.
Jan Schulman posts on 8/17/2007 11:46:08 AM
I recall reading that James had first tried to market the book as a novel and was then persuaded to sell it as a memoir because much of it was true. so he embellished. made for good reading, hmmmm? and that's why we buy a book --- for a good read. the lying occurred on oprah's show and larry king's show (with the help of his mother), and he should have stopped when he could. but to turn down an endorsement from oprah is pretty hard. he ended up faced with some very difficult situations and he didn't come forward until oprah did her 'number' on him the second time he was on her show --- and that was horrendous. i don't think she should have done that...i lost a lot of respect for her that day. she was like a cat playing with a wounded bird. some may say that james deserved it, but for those of us who got a lot out of his books (MLP helped me understand and deal more effectively with my teenage grandson who i am raising and who became an addict when he was 15), all i can say, and have said, is "thank you james." it was an absorbing, compelling read and unique to itself. whoever feels that they were 'harmed' by the fact that the book was not completely true is full of it. if you did not like the book, then you stop reading it. if, like me, you found that you could not put it down, then you got more than your money's worth because how often does that happen? it was an amazing read, and as far as i'm concerned, that's all james owed me. for the rest of it, i got a tremendous amount of insight and help into understanding what was driving my grandson. and i bought several copies of the book and handed it out at my al-anon meetings and even took one to the local juvenile facility and donated one there. nobody complained last time i looked...
nina posts on 8/16/2007 3:03:17 PM
Well DJ, as an adddict in recovery myself, believe me that I know about the process. Part of recovery is learning how to become an honest person. It's not as though James Frey was sitting around the dinner table telling his friends this story, he spent months writing this book, knowing that he was going to profit financially, from deceiving people. Had his book not been so over embelished, you being one of the deceived ones, may not have found it to be such a good read. Think about it.
DJ posts on 8/16/2007 1:06:58 PM
I am so tired of the lying thing, which is so incredibly judgmental. Who among us has never embellished the truth on occasion, or fudged it to protect a friend, or whatever? Let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone.
The truth is such a nebulous concept. It means different things to different people, and many of us can't rememeber those "details" that he may have lied about. To some, the truth may be a black and white issue, but to many others who see life as shades of gray, they're completely irrelevant to the big picture, which is a story of addiction and an ongoing growth process.
So no, I don't condone lying, but I do understand it and I don't judge it either. The details just aren't that important to me. I prefer to choose the path of love and acceptance. It's a much happier path for me.
nina posts on 8/16/2007 7:40:41 AM
Yes it is an amazing story, there are a lot of amazing stories that have impacted peoples lives. The point is that James Frey, in the true from of an addict, lied over and over again in interviews etc., in order to sell his book. Anyone admire that?
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