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Thursday, January 26, 2006


“I feel duped,” Oprah Winfrey said during her show yesterday. She was referring to author James Frey’s book “A Million Little Pieces.” Last October Oprah selected Frey’s memoir for her book club. On January 8 The Smoking Gun, an investigative Web site, revealed that the author had fabricated key parts of his autobiography. A media storm erupted, and Oprah, Frey, the publisher and autobiographies in general came under attack.

“NPR radio interviewed authors who taught memoir writing and they slammed him,” reports Reston Regional Library Manager Nadia Taran. “I'm disappointed in Mr. Frey. Saying that only five percent of the
book is inaccurate is like saying you're only a little pregnant.”

The New York Times reports that on her show yesterday, Oprah asked Frey if he made up the material because it helped him cope or because he wanted to sell books. “Probably both,” he admitted.

“If he had simply turned his fantasies into a novel, rather than an autobiography, he wouldn't be getting so much bad press now,” says Nancy Ryan, the manager of our Herndon Library. “But as a novel, the book probably wouldn't have gotten picked by Oprah and wouldn't have gotten published by a big publishing house.”

What do you think?

February 1, 1:30 p.m. George Mason University’s Dr. Janette Muir presents “The News We Need: Finding Balance in an Age of Spin” for ages 15 and older at the Dolley Madison Library.

February 4, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Crafts, grab bags and face painting as part of Fairfax City's Chocolate Lovers Festival. For all ages at the Fairfax City Regional Library.

February 4, 2 p.m. Korean New Year Celebration. Music, dance and light refreshments for all ages at the George Mason Regional Library.

February 4, Noon to 3 p.m. Black History: A Celebration of Community. Crafts, games and entertainment for all ages at the Pohick Regional Library.

February 4. Used Book Sale at the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library.

Find free activities for toddlers in our online calendar.

“The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency – the belief that the here and now is all there is.” -- Allan Bloom

© 2006 Fairfax County Public Library


Anonymous said...

Thank Goodness Oprah did what she did. Her credibility is unquestionable -- her true life story gives her the right to tell hold Frye and his publisher to the high standards readers want and deserve -- if you write a non fiction book, give us non-fiction please -- TRUTH does matter.

Anonymous said...

Just another case of, "Don't believe everything you read."

Anonymous said...

Obviously, he's a liar and a fraud, but the industry loves it based on the principle that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Count Oprah in too. What do you think the ratings were like on her show yesterday?

Anonymous said...

In my view, the fact that this fellow Frey got as far as he did, without full blown outrage from the start, is indicative of the corrosive effect of the moral relativism that has increasingly infected our society and culture. People are less willing to call something false and are inclined to say, ok, if it is "true for you" it is ok. Even though Oprah, correctly, has withdrawn her prior approval of this, at first she was unwilling to condemn it, stating that, despite its falsity, it still "resonated" with her, or words to that effect. There are still some absolutes out there, and we need to recognize them. Lying and deception are wrong, period.

Anonymous said...

Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. If one person gets help as a result from reading Frey's book, then that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I think the media hype on this issue is over the top. Plus, had this not been an "Oprah" but, I sure it would not recieve the same amount of attention. Really, is there any serious news to report?

Anonymous said...

I am apalled that the publisher, Nan Talese, did not check the facts. Or maybe she just wanted to sell books as did Frey. I watched the Oprah show and felt that Frey was not in the least sorry about what he did. After all he is very wealthy now. He can just go and retire on his book sales. I will be very reluctant to believe memoirs or autobiographies in the future.

Anonymous said...

- New word "truthiness" attached to this incident, akin "quotage",
- N.Y. times says Oprah's producer(s) knew of allegations of impropriety, yet they weren't chastised on the 'apology' show,
- Ms. Talese, an editor, seems to have avoided the fact that the work was promoted as a memoir (a narrative composed from personal experience) vs. fiction/non-fiction (she appears to have listened well to legal staff for deniability as well as libel),
- nearly all parties are members in the cast of the theatre of the absurd,
- Again, MAUREEN DOWD, in Oprah bit and op-ed piece, tells it like it is.