Essential Truth

More on the James Frey fray.

The Unger Report, a regular feature on NPR, talked about the “essential truth” in Jame’s Frey’s “memoir.” You can listen at NPR : ‘Pieces’ of Essential Truth. Or better yet: do what I do and subscribe to the Satire from the Unger Report podcast. It’s usually very funny.

I asked myself the other day why I’m so pissed off about this James Frey thing. I think it’s because, as a writer, I believe that writers owe the public the truth. If a book is a memoir, it’s supposed to be true, at least as you remember the truth. (If this is the way Frey remembers the truth, he really needs to get into therapy.) If a book’s content is so exaggerated that large parts of it are made up, then that book should be sold to readers as fiction.

From what I’ve read about the book, it wasn’t particularly well written and it was turned down by 17 publishers when the author attempted to sell it as fiction. So the only way he could sell it to a publisher — and to the unsuspecting and trustful public — was as a real life story.

And that’s what pisses me off. He abused the reader’s trust. No writer should ever do that.

What do you think?