liar, liar, pants on fire

so by now, i'm sure everyone has heard of james frey, the brain trust that decided to write a memoir and deliberately fabricate key parts of his life. i must say that i have not read his book, a million little pieces, nor do i want to. i'll admit, i'm a sucker for controversy, but i really couldn't care less about what the novel (it now has to be called) is like. this entry is simply based on what i've read in the major news papers.
this all started when the smoking gun, a site known for its celebrity mug shots, uncovered various discrepancies with what he wrote in his memoir, and what actually happened. what's interesting to me is the fact that he felt compelled to lie. and the thing is, he wouldn't just lie about key facts (such as the fact that he says he spent 3 months in jail, when it was only a few hours, or hitting a cop with his car - an incident which was integral to the events in the book), but he'd also embellish and lie about things he didn't need to, such as the character of Lily, who apparently commits suicide by hanging in the book, but in reality Frey admits she died by slitting her wrists. now, was that necessary? more importantly, did she even exist?

i guess i can understand the compulsion to make things up about one's own life, because let's face it, most of our lives are mundane and when something interesting or different or exciting happens to us, we tend to exaggerate a bit, but most people don't outright lie and make stuff up. for instance, in desert sessions, a bunch of the events in the book did happen to me or to someone i knew, but a lot of it was also made up. of the stuff that actually happened, i changed things and added things to make it more exciting. and i didn't call it a fucking memoir. for example, when i was in europe, i was traveling with a guy named cameron who was this really amazing, poet-in-his-own-right, aussie dreamer who sort of floated through life. we would walk through the barren streets of leipzig in the middle of the night, completely high on hash, doing stupid things. we would also go to clubs in prague, where one night he handed to me (a drug novice) a white clump about the size of a gumball, telling me to take some of it. he assured me there wasn't any heroin in it so i was drunk and decided to just go for it. pretty much the next few hours, i was fucked out of my gourd, paranoid that the lights from the club were lazers that were out to hit me, and subsequently resorting to dancing like a maniac for two hours thinking it was my only defense against the lights. at one point, i believed i was swimming. these events made it into desert sessions, but i took the liberty of splitting them up, changing the scenarios to fit the characters and the story. in the end, the character that i based on cameron died in the book, but in reality, he's alive and well, and probably somewhere in tibet right now smoking a joint.

i suppose the real crime is that he wrote the book, and called it a memoir, when it probably should have been categorized as a novel. the thing is, i can understand why he chose not to label it a novel. novels like that, where people go on alcoholic and drug induced binges and fall in and out of crime, are written all the time. they're a dime a dozen. they're about as hackneyed as books about kids coming of age. calling it a memoir gives it a little more strength, and one wonders if oprah would have chosen it for her book club if it had just been a novel. the reason for its success was the strength of it being a memoir, and subsequently giving people hope (particularly other addicts and their families). this makes it the ultimate crass move. people thought it was real, even when various literary critics were questioning its complete merit from the moment it hit the retail shelves. it may have not been his original intention to prey on people's sympathies when he wrote the book, but once it got big, he just couldn't shut up about it and the help it could bring to other addicts.

now, is this new? some guy lying and making something up for his personal benefit? no. but what's insulting is that he's such a bad liar. he lied about things that could easily be checked up on (eg: jail time, court documents, etc). if you're gonna lie, at least lie about something the general public would be too lazy to bother with, such as whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. plus he lied to oprah! how could he! (oprah has since come out and apologized for defending frey's work, and has now actively attacked him for lying). but hey, what do i know? he's sold 3.5 million copies and i've sold... okay, let's not dwell on numbers. at any rate, you can read the whole report
here. you almost feel bad for frey, but then again, he's sitting on his pile of money that will only get bigger once his screenplay gets made into a movie. maybe i should start my own memoirs... yes, i can see it now... i can write about my harrowing adventures as a pirate on the stormy seas, rescuing moon maidens from the violent locals, all the while high on pcp... and perhaps i could write a screenplay about it, with charlize theron playing the hooker with the heart of gold who gently and lovingly teaches a teenage version of me the beauty of a woman...