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The Man Who Conned Oprah - Is James Frey ("A Million Little Pieces") A Fake?

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The Man Who Conned Oprah - Is James Frey ("A Million Little Pieces") A Fake?

Old 01-12-06, 04:20 AM
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I never even heard of this book till this controversy. which means only one thing, more sales
Old 01-12-06, 08:49 AM
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Oprah backs author over 'faked' drug memoir
By Sam Knight and agencies

Oprah Winfrey, America's most powerful television host, last night stepped into the row surrounding a bestselling drugs memoir that she promoted on her show, but which has now been shown to have been at least partly fabricated.

Winfrey was a surprise caller on Larry King Live, the CNN talkshow, which last night devoted an hour to an interview with James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces, which sold nearly two million copies in America last year and was chosen as the autumn selection for Winfrey's influential book club.



On Sunday, The Smoking Gun, an investigative website, published a 13,000 word article, and several accompanying police records, which claimed that Frey had exaggerated key events which underpin the book, a stark, profanity-filled account of Frey's criminal and drug addicted past.

In his first interview since the article was published, Frey told CNN last night that his book was an "imperfect animal", when Winfrey called the programme to make plain her own view of the allegations.

Calling the controversy "much ado about nothing", Winfrey said the book "still resonates with me".

"Everyone has been asking me to release a statement, and I first wanted to hear what James had to say and I didnít want that coloured by any personal conversation that Iíve had," said Winfrey, who makes her spring book selection on Monday.

"Heís said heís had many conversations with my producers who do fully support him and obviously we support the book because we recognise that there have been thousands and hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been changed by this book."

The Smoking Gun article contradicted crucial passages of A Million Little Pieces, in which Frey claimed to have been investigated by the FBI, imprisoned for three months for running over a policeman and starting a riot and to have lost his only high school friend in a train crash.

Although they did not question Frey's addictions to drugs and alcohol, the allegations were uncomfortable for Winfrey, who made the book her first ever non-fiction selection last September, telling her audience that she had chosen the book because it was "so raw, and so real".

Frey appeared on Oprah for a special interview in October and accompanied a 37-year-old alcoholic and painkiller addict into a treatment centre. A section of the Oprah's Book Club website is entitled: "Did this book save your life?"

Last night Winfrey said the factual basis for the book did not detract from its message. "Whether or not... he hit the police officer or didnít hit the police officer is irrelevant to me," she said.

"What is relevant is that he was a drug addict, spent years in turmoil, from the time he was 10 years old and tormenting himself and his parents, and out of that history to be the man that he is today and to take that message to other people and allow them to save themselves."

In his appearance, Frey refused to address specific questions about passages in the book, but told King: "I hope the emotional truth of the book resonates with (readers)... I couldnít have written it if I hadnít been through a lot of the things I talk about."

"Itís a memoir," he added. "Itís an imperfect animal. ...I donít think it should be held up and scrutinised the way a perfect nonfiction documentary would be or a newspaper article."

Last night Random House, the publishers of A Million Little Pieces, denied that it was offering disappointed readers a refund for the book. Callers to a customer service line were offered their money back if they had bought the book directly from the publishers, but Random House said such refunds were standard policy.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...981860,00.html

Good news! It's "emotionally true," and that's all that really matters.
Old 01-12-06, 09:30 AM
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what a joke. if the guy really did exaggerate his drinking/drug use and then turns around and tells people AA isnt the answer then yes he needs to get his leash yanked. Its basically the same thing as Tom Cruise telling people not to see psychiatrists or take their medications.

ive never liked crap like the Oprah Book Club. she snaps her fingers and boom a book is a best-seller. Its the MTV/TRL of the literary world, deciding what people want to read based on the whims of a single person or cabal.
Old 01-12-06, 09:49 AM
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< sarcasm >Does oprah get paid to pick a certain book?< /sarcasm >

Anyone who watched Larry King last night can see this guy is a complete fraud. My wife made me watch it (she read the book), and it was pretty obvious to me. I mean, he admits himself that he made up a bunch of it, but says that the time in treatment is all true. Well, how are we suppose to believe that. So everything outside of treatment is crap, but everything inside is true, but no one can actually prove that. Right, right.
Old 01-12-06, 08:28 PM
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I don't know much about this, but I don't get the outrage I've heard some people claim to have, and people wanting a refund even though originally they liked the book
just think of it as fiction and move the f*** on
Old 01-12-06, 09:18 PM
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I agree about Oprah's bookclub. It doesn't matter what book it is, if she mentions it, then her millions of followers read it. Now we have millions of women who think William Faulkner is the greatest thing ever, when before Oprah mentioned his work, i bet half those people didn't know he existed.

I guess I should be happy people are reading something, but it still irritates me.
Old 01-12-06, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mikehunt
I don't know much about this, but I don't get the outrage I've heard some people claim to have, and people wanting a refund even though originally they liked the book
just think of it as fiction and move the f*** on
I think the issue is that he made such a big deal out of it being true and that Oprah played it up as her first non-fiction pick. That and the guy comes off as self-absorbed to begin with.
Old 01-13-06, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by krazydawg005
Now we have millions of women who think William Faulkner is the greatest thing ever, when before Oprah mentioned his work, i bet half those people didn't know he existed.
Yes, that really is a terrible, terrible thing.
Old 01-14-06, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mikehunt
I don't know much about this, but I don't get the outrage I've heard some people claim to have, and people wanting a refund even though originally they liked the book
just think of it as fiction and move the f*** on
Exactly...All this hub-ub is just increasing book sales more. Sounds like the guy may know a thing or two about marketing.
Old 01-14-06, 04:13 PM
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If you get your book ideas from oprah then this is what you have to expect from time to time. She is no book expert and is not going to be able to fact check every book she recommends. I don't really see all the reason for outrage either. Do people really think that just because some jackass wrote it down its the 100% truth?
Old 01-14-06, 04:53 PM
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Getting a little rowdy here in the Book Talk forum, aren't we?

The refund thing is for the birds.

If you let Oprah pick out books for you to read, you deserve to get stuck with your purchase.
Old 01-14-06, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by funkydjmcescher
J.T. Leroy ( out & out fraud )
I can't help but feel extremely amused by the whole J. T. Leroy affair.

The people who pulled it off gave Hollywood and the literary establishment something that they badly wanted to believe in, and they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. The perfect "outsider" for them to glom on to -- transgendered, abused, child prostitute, HIV+, who became a great author during therapy sessions with a psychiatrist.

Christ, it's bloody brilliant, isn't it? They create this character imbued with qualities that push every one of the Hollywood establishment's sympathy buttons, and he's partying with Winona Ryder and Courtney Love.

It's fucking hilarious.

I'm actually thinking about reading his books now.
Old 01-14-06, 07:04 PM
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It seems like there are a lot of people who are just bitching without actually paying attention to anything after the innitial 'James Frey is a fraud' accusations. If you watched Larry King, he said that before writing his book he organized large amounts of documents (journals required by the treatment facility, his own journal, therapy documentation, etc...) to help him through the process of remembering. Yes, some of his story might have had some flavor added to it, but I don't blame the guy for wanting to write something with substance. Like he said (a million times over) on Larry King "The disputed information consists of 18 or so of the 400+ pages of the book" Roughly 5%, all of which occurs outside of the treatment facility...i.e. not the bones of the story. I'm surprised that people are out and out calling him a fraud, saying he was never a user, saying his story is complete bullshit because of such a small percentage.

I don't understand why people can be so harsh to a guy, movie, show, or a book as though it affects your life in any way. Why spend the time just bashing something? How does that improve you or make you feel fulfilled?

To me, it just feels like someone is trying to bring down Oprah's credibility. Wanting to hate her for another reason. I went though that a few years ago, pissed because she was so rich and was 'all that.' But then I realized that she is a pretty great lady, doing a lot of great things for a lot of people who need help. And God forbid she tries to promote reading.

As for the book. It was recommended to me by a coworker who let me borrow it when she was finish. It is pretty incredible stuff. Gut wrenching, sad, edgy. I am throughly engrossed so far...which is maybe why I am backing Frey up. So fucking read it and make up your mind afterwards.
Old 01-15-06, 01:26 AM
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Originally Posted by david12
It seems like there are a lot of people who are just bitching without actually paying attention to anything after the innitial 'James Frey is a fraud' accusations. If you watched Larry King, he said that before writing his book he organized large amounts of documents (journals required by the treatment facility, his own journal, therapy documentation, etc...) to help him through the process of remembering. Yes, some of his story might have had some flavor added to it, but I don't blame the guy for wanting to write something with substance. Like he said (a million times over) on Larry King "The disputed information consists of 18 or so of the 400+ pages of the book" Roughly 5%, all of which occurs outside of the treatment facility...i.e. not the bones of the story. I'm surprised that people are out and out calling him a fraud, saying he was never a user, saying his story is complete bullshit because of such a small percentage.
I'm guessing you didn't read the Smoking Gun piece, or read/see the many ensuing exposes on the sham Frey is propogating.

I don't understand why people can be so harsh to a guy, movie, show, or a book as though it affects your life in any way. Why spend the time just bashing something? How does that improve you or make you feel fulfilled?

So fucking read it and make up your mind afterwards.
You might want to re-read your second paragraph. Does bashing critics of Frey's book "improve you or make you fulfilled"? Seems the book, and this discussion, affected you in a way.
Old 01-15-06, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by david12
It seems like there are a lot of people who are just bitching without actually paying attention to anything after the innitial 'James Frey is a fraud' accusations. If you watched Larry King, he said that before writing his book he organized large amounts of documents (journals required by the treatment facility, his own journal, therapy documentation, etc...) to help him through the process of remembering. Yes, some of his story might have had some flavor added to it, but I don't blame the guy for wanting to write something with substance. Like he said (a million times over) on Larry King "The disputed information consists of 18 or so of the 400+ pages of the book" Roughly 5%, all of which occurs outside of the treatment facility...i.e. not the bones of the story. I'm surprised that people are out and out calling him a fraud, saying he was never a user, saying his story is complete bullshit because of such a small percentage.

I don't understand why people can be so harsh to a guy, movie, show, or a book as though it affects your life in any way. Why spend the time just bashing something? How does that improve you or make you feel fulfilled?

To me, it just feels like someone is trying to bring down Oprah's credibility. Wanting to hate her for another reason. I went though that a few years ago, pissed because she was so rich and was 'all that.' But then I realized that she is a pretty great lady, doing a lot of great things for a lot of people who need help. And God forbid she tries to promote reading.

As for the book. It was recommended to me by a coworker who let me borrow it when she was finish. It is pretty incredible stuff. Gut wrenching, sad, edgy. I am throughly engrossed so far...which is maybe why I am backing Frey up. So fucking read it and make up your mind afterwards.
What you're thoroughly engrossed in is fiction -- NOT what Frey said over and over and over before The Smoking Gun exposed him. After The Smoking Gun story, THEN he starts back-pedalling -- before that it was an "honest, true account of a decade of alcohol and drug abuse and jail time".

I've never posted in the Book Forum although I'm a voracious reader. When I read a book claiming to be "Non-Fiction", I EXPECT it to be true -- 100% of it, not 99% or 95%. I'm a little surprised at some of the posts here saying that people are expecting and accepting of fabrications in a non-fiction work. If the story is interesting enough to write about and to be published, it shouldn't NEED fabrications. The only license I give a non-fiction author is the need to change names "to protect the innocent". Other than that, I expect truth.

THIS "work" has now been proven to have many lies and deceits throughout its pages. How is a reader, especially one who may be actually dealing with drug or alcohol abuse, supposed to figure out what is true and what is a added 'for flavor'? The fact that this Frey character is extolling the virtues of kicking drug and/or alcohol abuse WITHOUT the benefit of any 12 step program, but only because he "wanted to" or "felt it was time" is reprehensible. I can imagine an abuser turning back to alcohol or drugs when they find out that some of the book (who knows what?) that tells this "success story" is untrue ("it didn't really work for this guy, why would it work for me?").

Although it may not be affecting my life, this book does affect people's lives. My harsh criticism doesn't come from a place of hating Oprah or her book club -- in fact, I would agree that she is a great lady who affects people's lives for the better AND encourages reading. My harsh criticism comes from being offended that this jackass dare write and publish what he purports to be non-fiction and then goes on Oprah's show and countless others to proclaim that every word is true, only to later find out that "oh, maybe 5% is disputed information, but that's OK, the rest is true." This isn't a biography of a famous person where something like that is mostly harmless; this is a book that supposedly tells the story of someone who successfully beat a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and is meant to teach people how to do the same by themselves; a process which may be damaging to many, many people without the real help they need to recover.
Old 01-15-06, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by SMB-IL
What you're thoroughly engrossed in is fiction -- NOT what Frey said over and over and over before The Smoking Gun exposed him. After The Smoking Gun story, THEN he starts back-pedalling -- before that it was an "honest, true account of a decade of alcohol and drug abuse and jail time".

I've never posted in the Book Forum although I'm a voracious reader. When I read a book claiming to be "Non-Fiction", I EXPECT it to be true -- 100% of it, not 99% or 95%. I'm a little surprised at some of the posts here saying that people are expecting and accepting of fabrications in a non-fiction work. If the story is interesting enough to write about and to be published, it shouldn't NEED fabrications. The only license I give a non-fiction author is the need to change names "to protect the innocent". Other than that, I expect truth.

THIS "work" has now been proven to have many lies and deceits throughout its pages. How is a reader, especially one who may be actually dealing with drug or alcohol abuse, supposed to figure out what is true and what is a added 'for flavor'? The fact that this Frey character is extolling the virtues of kicking drug and/or alcohol abuse WITHOUT the benefit of any 12 step program, but only because he "wanted to" or "felt it was time" is reprehensible. I can imagine an abuser turning back to alcohol or drugs when they find out that some of the book (who knows what?) that tells this "success story" is untrue ("it didn't really work for this guy, why would it work for me?").

Although it may not be affecting my life, this book does affect people's lives. My harsh criticism doesn't come from a place of hating Oprah or her book club -- in fact, I would agree that she is a great lady who affects people's lives for the better AND encourages reading. My harsh criticism comes from being offended that this jackass dare write and publish what he purports to be non-fiction and then goes on Oprah's show and countless others to proclaim that every word is true, only to later find out that "oh, maybe 5% is disputed information, but that's OK, the rest is true." This isn't a biography of a famous person where something like that is mostly harmless; this is a book that supposedly tells the story of someone who successfully beat a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and is meant to teach people how to do the same by themselves; a process which may be damaging to many, many people without the real help they need to recover.

Well said!
Old 01-15-06, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Ovid
The real problem as I see it, is that Frey used the publicity to routinely deny AA and the twelve step program as a recovery tool. If you research addiction or talk to a doctor who specializes in it, 95% say that some sort of 12 step program or treatment is, in the vast majority of cases, the only way to recovery.
They might claim that, but they would be wrong. 12 step programs have never been shown to provide a success rate any higher than other methods of quitting (cold turkey, therapy, whatever). According to AA itself in its 1989 survey of members, half of all people quit the program within 3 months, and after 12 months their success rate is 5%. 12 step is a load of crap.
Old 01-15-06, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Duran
They might claim that, but they would be wrong. 12 step programs have never been shown to provide a success rate any higher than other methods of quitting (cold turkey, therapy, whatever). According to AA itself in its 1989 survey of members, half of all people quit the program within 3 months, and after 12 months their success rate is 5%. 12 step is a load of crap.
I said I watched the Bullshit! episode!!!

Note that I said treatment (i.e. of any kind). And if you don't see the logical mistakes in you conclusions following a single survey (that's survey), then you're as bad as AA. I am voraciously against that organization. But that doesnt' mean that addicts just "pick themselves up off of their bootstrapes" at the same rate as those medically treated.

But, as I said, the argument against 12 steps is a completely different one. To say that educated questioning about treatment for addiction therefore justifies support for ANY theory about how to overcome it, is just plain silly.
Old 01-18-06, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Duran
They might claim that, but they would be wrong. 12 step programs have never been shown to provide a success rate any higher than other methods of quitting (cold turkey, therapy, whatever). According to AA itself in its 1989 survey of members, half of all people quit the program within 3 months, and after 12 months their success rate is 5%. 12 step is a load of crap.

yep.. I myself am a recovering alcoholic.. I didn't go through AA because of most of that shit to me is BS.. i choose not to use it.. i suck it up & i don't use it..


it's very interested, i just finished reading this book 2-3 days ago (finished it in about 3 days) and his technique of quitting & staying away was very much what i did before reading his book..


Fiction, Non fiction, it was highly entertaining
Old 01-18-06, 10:42 AM
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http://www.theonion.com/content/node/44479

Old 01-23-06, 05:02 PM
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I told my wife (who thankfully isn't one of Oprah's legions) about this. She said she'd read the book, and that she didn't care if it was true or not, she liked the book either way.
Old 01-23-06, 09:04 PM
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Yeah...I havent read A Million Little Pieces, but I just finished My Friend Leonard and its a pretty good read. True or not I enjoyed it, and due to that I will read Pieces as well. Still not sure of all the hate, but everyone has the right to their own opinions.
Old 01-24-06, 09:06 AM
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My reaction: who the fuck cares?

That "lawsuit" alleging consumer fraud ought to be laughed out of the courtroom in 10 seconds flat. What possible "damage" could there be from reading a book that may or may not be fiction?
Old 01-26-06, 08:34 AM
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CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- James Frey, the author of the disputed memoir "A Million Little Pieces," will appear Thursday on a live broadcast of Oprah Winfrey's television show to address the dustup surrounding his book, according to a spokeswoman for Winfrey's Harpo Productions.

Harpo spokeswoman Angela DePaul also said Nan A. Talese, whose imprint at Doubleday published Frey's account of overcoming drug addiction and alcoholism, would appear with Frey on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," as well as several journalists familiar with allegations that parts of the memoir are fiction.

Talese published "A Million Little Pieces" in 2003. It enjoyed good sales, and when Winfrey named it as the September 2005 choice of her book club, it became one of the best-selling books of last year.

But on January 8, The Smoking Gun Web site (www.thesmokinggun.com), ran an investigative story that indicated Frey, 36, had embellished, and even invented, some of the material in his memoir.

Winfrey reaffirmed her support for the book in a telephone call to CNN's "Larry King Live" on January 11 at the end of King's hourlong interview with Frey.

In the call, Winfrey dismissed as "much ado about nothing" the allegations that Frey had fabricated some parts -- including a three-month prison stay that apparently never happened.

"What is relevant is that he was a drug addict ... and stepped out of that history to be the man he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves," Winfrey said in the surprise call.

Frey acknowledged he had embellished certain parts of the book but characterized such changes as minor, adding that a memoir is an "imperfect animal" and a "subjective retelling" of events.

In his interview with King, Frey said he had originally tried to sell his book as fiction.

"We initially shopped the book as a novel and it was turned down by a lot of publishers as a novel or as a nonfiction book," he told King. "When Nan Talese purchased the book, I'm not sure if they knew what they were going to publish it as. We talked about what to publish it as. And they thought the best thing to do was publish it as a memoir."

In a telephone interview with the New York Observer, Talese said it was never her intention to publish the book as a novel.
Old 01-26-06, 10:19 AM
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Word is, "Oprah admits she made a mistake in supporting this guy on today's show".

Apparently the show has taped already and that's what's coming out...

Last edited by Giantrobo; 01-26-06 at 10:23 AM.

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