I’ve been afraid of jumping into the fray or rather Frey. Mostly because I don’t want to give the bum any more media attention. But then I realized the kind of attention I might afford James Frey would be minimal compared to the hell the NY Times gave him. http://nymag.com/arts/books/features/69474/
Okay we already know he is a liar, but it seems as if the “author” of A Million Little Pieces is now a crook and a liar—and he’s not even a politician (at least not yet). I use the term author loosely. I guess he is an author, he wrote the above mentioned book and now a few others—but it’s how he got published and rose to fame that is the most galling. He lied.
First he tried to publish his ms as fiction and when that didn’t work he merely tried to pass it off as memoir. And OMG it worked! He got picked up by Nan Talese who sold him and got big bucks and Oprah and more big bucks and visibility (something by the way that big bucks can’t always get you). I saw people on the train reading his book. Wow to reach a critical mass to where your book is read on a train. If only, I lust and yearn, and ultimately despair of ever getting published again.
But then I remind myself, he tricked people!! It was all a sham. Yes, I trade exchanges with myself, but it worked. And that’s how it goes.
That covers the liar liar pants on fire part of this entry, now onto the crook part. As covered in the above NY Times link, Frey has started a writing factory enterprise. Listservs have lit up about this now for a couple of weeks, so for some of you, dear readers, this is OLD news. But the ethics is so so sticky.
Listen. It is a win-win situation. The underpaid anonymous author gets published. (We all know the lure of that, to see your name in lights, or maybe not YOUR name, but an affiliation with the guy who stole your work). Anyway, to see the work of your hands, the fruit of your labor out there and being read and hopefully enjoyed. It’s why many of us work so hard for little to no recognition. It’s a win-win for Frey and his writing factory Full Fathom Five. He makes money. The publishing house and subsequent movie people, script writers, etc—they’re all getting a cut. And isn’t this what it is all about?: fueling the economy, getting people back to work??
Yeah but . . . .
All those good intentions, the fruit of the labor, the work of the hands, is now simply considered content. That’s right. Even as I sit here I’m creating content or as journalists refer to them “clips.” Or maybe what Frey likes to call “product.”
Yet . . . there is a nagging naïve thought echoing in the hollows of my brain, a question really. What about art? Not content, or filler, or the stuff Frey needs to fulfill his contract. What about that driving passion, that subtle feeling that can’t be produced on demand, that thing which rises up involuntarily inside of me at the end of a story—either one I’ve read or one I’ve written—that thing that says Whoa, Wow, or YESSS. The Holy Ghost Goosebumps of Literature.
I’m gonna miss that feeling when all that gets published is packaged, propaganda, or commercial James Frey do-do.