Turned in by none other than The Smoking Gun. Ordinarily associated with digging up rap sheets and arrest records of interest, today they combine that with an investigation into the author of “A Million Little Pieces,” James Frey. Frey’s supposed nonfiction memoir of his years as an alcoholic, drug addict, and criminal, was gushed over by none other than Oprah Winfrey when she made the paperback version of Frey’s first book her Oprah’s Book Club selection in October.
Here’s what TSG has to say about Frey’s past:
Police reports, court records, interviews with law enforcement personnel, and other sources have put the lie to many key sections of Frey’s book. The 36-year-old author, these documents and interviews show, wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw “wanted in three states.”
In addition to these rap sheet creations, Frey also invented a role for himself in a deadly train accident that cost the lives of two female high school students. In what may be his book’s most crass flight from reality, Frey remarkably appropriates and manipulates details of the incident so he can falsely portray himself as the tragedy’s third victim.This section from an interview with blogger Claire Zulkey should have been a heads up to anyone wondering how 100% true Frey’s 100% true story actually was.
Speaking of memoirs, are there any autobiographies or memoirs that you’re particularly fond of?
I love Charles Baudelaire. I love Celine and Henry Miller. I love Charles Bukowski and Pat Conroy and Tim O’Brien and Brett Easton Ellis. None of these guys actually wrote memoirs, but they all wrote about themselves. Though I used my real name, I consider my work in the same tradition.Citing Brett Easton Ellis as an influence for memoir writing says just about everything you need to know about Frey erstwhile nonfiction books…