"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, January 27, 2006

Small Frey

And yet another from the man who just won't shaddap....

This time I offer my take on the Oprah turnaround (well, it is Harpo Productions) on the James Frey "autobio" and the J.T. Leroy story as exposed by New York.

Here is a small slice:

Remember the first axiom of journalism. "Dog Bites Man" is not a headline; "Man Bites Dog" is the ideal. What this means is that every time you read an article about the man biting the dog, you should really be cheered by the invisible headline which reads: "99 Percent of Men Don't Bite Dogs." Pessimists have a tendency to extrapolate the wrong message, thinking that men must be biting dogs everywhere and the order of existence has broken down. It is the optimist who is the smart reader, who grasps the true import of the story.

3 comments:

Kathy Hutchins said...

There are now so many of these fake memoirs that it threatens to become a recognized genre. They'll have to set aside a shelf for them at Borders. The newest one seems to me the weirdest: a white middle class author of gay male pornography successfully passes himself off as a Navaho named Nasdijj, wins PEN awards, banks big bucks for Houghton Mifflin, and becomes a multiculti lit sensation, until a real Indian blows the whistle.

Compare all this outrage to the reaction when Carlos Casteneda was outed. He didn't just pull one over on the public, he actually submitted his fiction as a PhD dissertation. Not only was his PhD never revoked, the University of California Press continues to reprint, and profit from, his phony anthropology.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Wow, Kathy! That was absolutely fascinating.

Thanks so much.

James Elliott said...

I confess to watching Frey's utter pummeling on Oprah yesterday. I couldn't turn away. I kept thinking to myself - why? Why would that man go back on a show he knows is going to scourge him with whips and chains? He forced Oprah to apologize! She might gut him on live television!

Ah, but then I realized: He will never print another serious work again. And this appearance and the resulting flaying will sell more copies than the when the scandal started (and boy did the copies move after that!). He's making all the money he can.