How do you get middle class suburban women to go crazy for depraved sex, booze and drugs? Oh, wait a minute, they already are. I meant to ask, how do you get them talking about it comfortably? If you are James Frey, you write your memoir and get Oprah to endorse it. For those of you crawling from under your rocks, real or crack, I am talking about the book, A Million Little Pieces.
Two months ago I would have had nothing to say about this book. But then, a girlfriend turned me on to it. I resisted as it is not my normal genre-I may smoke some cigs and drink some scotch, but I don’t do the hard stuff or want to read about it. But, with a family vacation in the works, I succumbed to ever powerful peer pressure and purchased the item from B&N. After finishing State of Fear and In Cold Blood, I was in desperate need of a fix. I opened the book. I was not hooked.
You see, the book is the author’s story of drug addiction and the real life accounts are, today, being called lies. According to thesmokinggun.com, Oprah has been had.
…a six-week investigation by The Smoking Gun reveals that there may be a lot less to love about Frey’s runaway hit, which has sold more than 3.5 million copies and, thanks to Winfrey, has sat atop The New York Times nonfiction paperback best seller list for the past 15 weeks. Next to the latest Harry Potter title, Nielsen BookScan reported Friday, Frey’s book sold more copies in the U.S. in 2005–1.77 million–than any other title, with the majority of that total coming after Winfrey’s selection.
Damn, I knew that Oprah influenced popular opinion, but I did not even begin to imagine the scope of that influence. Here we have the book flying off shelves, and it is not even good. I struggled to get through it- my husband, through eye watering laughter, told me to just say no, and stop. But he knows that I am fighting my own demon- that I am addicted to finishing bad books because I don’t want to feel that I wasted my time. (Bad rationalization, but is that not the cause of most addiction?) Never mind that I can cut my losses- I have to see it through. In this case, I am glad I did.
Nowhere in this book did Mr. Frey ever describe addiction as a “disease.” As far as his drug use, real or fictitious, he never claimed to “find ‘anything’” before “quitting.” In fact, he adamantly spoke of personal responsibility for his choices. There is a chapter in which he talks about his rehab love being forced to leave the facility. Co-ed relationships were forbidden and they had been caught playing around. He left to find her, confronted a pimp/dealer in a bus station restroom and learned that his sweet Lilly was with an old man and some rock. He tracked her to an abandoned building filled with crack heads and found her high, and sucking a pipe of a different sort. His love for her and his determination to just stop using allowed him to rescue her and escape without using. He had faced his demon, and, according to the memoir, he never used again.
Is his story a crock of shit? Who knows? If he is a liar, he played it well. If false, society- by offering the medical term “disease”- helped him along. (As am I by offering that excuse.) Society now deems most lapses of good judgement a medical affliction and therefore worthy of mainstream attention. If the story is true, kudos to him for taking responsibility for his life. Whether memoir or fiction, I have to applaud the marketing. Oprah can sell anything from Coach handbags to Fords. Why aren’t we talking to her?