Thursday, January 26, 2006

"You have meddled with the primal forces of nature. And you will atone"

I can't help but think of that great scene in the prophetic 70s flick "Network" --- when suicidal anchor Howard Beale is reminded by his boss who signs his check --- as I watch embattled liar James Frey stutter and squirm through a cross examination from his former champion, Oprah.

First, I'll credit an obviously embarrassed Winfrey for apologizing about her defense of Frey, the discredited author of two current best-sellers. "I left the impression that the truth is not important," she said.

But this is more about credibility of the "Oprah" brand. She's as trusted as any figure in the U.S., and there's no way some fly-by-night fraud is going to derail her empire. Hell hate no fury like an Oprah scorned.

Still, I'll take her for her word. Sad that's it become refreshing to see someone admit she (or he) is wrong ... which is more than Frey was willing to do. Lots of equivocation in his deer-in-headlights mea culpa.


  1. I didn't know she knew the phrase "I was wrong." Still, I wouldn't want to cross her. He'll never eat lunch in this town again

  2. There comes a point when an author, bursting with autobiographical intent and enthusiasm faces that moment of truth: Is it the truth and nothing but the truth? If not, does that make it fiction?
    I faced that moment. The answer was somewhere in between.
    My legs did the walking to a cemetary in a nearbye town. I took a hundred names from the tombstones and replaced all but a few names in the book. Then I thought, what about those incidents from my childhood, were they truly true, did they happen exactly that way? No, not exactly, some of them, at least, didn't.
    I'm a story teller, I like to embellish—to eek out every bit of angst and humor. So it was ninty nine and forty-four—no forty-three, percent true. But I could not in good faith continue that way.
    I rewrote it all in the third person and called the whole thing a "fictionalized autobiographical account".
    It makes me crazy to understand why he, Frey, couldn't have done that, or something similiar. I am really pissed off at the guy, not so much for what he did, but because he was so damned stupid about it.
    My book will never be on Oprah,
    and I'm left with my delusion—"a poor man's version of Salinger, Jacko, that's what you are", but I can sleep at night.

  3. I haven't read the book, but I have seen clips of him on Oprah and Larry King. I don't know why he doesn't just get tougher. "yea I made some of this up, so what?"

    I can't stand Oprah, so I found myself siding with him when she was grilling him....can't she just stick to giving away "bling" to plane jane middle aged women?