Friday, January 13, 2006

A Million Little Opinions + Mine

I got quoted in the Red Eye yesterday on the hullabaloo surrounding James Frey and whether or not he was completely truthful in his autobiography, A Million Little Pieces. While it was cool to be quoted in the Red Eye, I was a little disappointed with the part of my quote they actually used. What they accurately quoted me as saying is:
I liken the whole thing to online cheating: morally it's wrong, but technically it's no big deal. Lying about your life story is like cheating at solitaire - the only person who will really suffer is you. If you write a story that you pass off as non-fiction, it should be truthful and accurate. Otherwise, the only legacy you will leave behind is that you are a liar.
But the best point I made was that I am considering Frey's book in the same vein as I consider The Bible - probably full of fabrications, however the underlying themes are the messages you need to abstract:

Do I believe that the world flooded for 40 days and 40 nights and that one man rescued two of every living creature? No.

But do I believe in the idea of second chances and new beginnings? Yes.

Do I believe that men stomped their feet and blew their horns so the walls of Jericho would tumble to the ground? No.

But do I believe in the power of community? Yes.

Do I believe that Samson lost all of his strength when Delilah cut his hair off? No.

But do I believe that love can come back and bite you in the ass? Hell yeah.

If Frey's book can be used as a message and beacon to others who are suffering from drug abuse, loneliness, or a sense of failure, then does it really matter if the color of his prison jumpsuit is accurate? Besides, in his mind, based on all the drugs he used, he might really believe this was the way it all happened (three hours in a jail cell can easily seem like three days when you have no sense of time). If he was as drugged out as he claims, then he's left brain cells all over the country. And the mere fact that he can put together a few coherent sentences is quite a feat.

Was it wrong to lie? Sure. Did he lie? No idea. Is it his memoir as he remembers it? Probably. In life, if you tell a lie long enough, it becomes your truth. Whether these things actually happened to him or not, perhaps he really believes that they did. Drugs will do that to you. So will despair, loneliness, and a feeling of needing to belong.

So let the man alone. And remember - you have the option of NOT reading his book.