Saturday, January 14, 2006

Frey Scandal

When A Million Little Pieces first came out; I picked it up and read the first two pages. These, if you haven't read it, recount a flight in which the author James Frey is covered in blood, urine and vomit from one of his drug/alcohol binges. I remember thinking at the time "this did not happen." It just seemed so over the top that I didn't believe it. Guess I was right.

The other thing that bothered me about the whole story was the issue of redemption. I'm sorry, but life is just not like that. You can turn yourself around but redemption is a false concept. Its very Oprah, though, which is why she loves the book (she even said so herself on Larry King).

Wolcott says it better (duh):

I'm just automatically suspicious of every tale of woe that's peddled as a tale of redemption. The whole concept of redemption seems fishy to me, another form of sentimentality. How many people do you know have found redemption? What does "redemption" really mean? It's got a lofty religious sound, but the vast majority of people improve or worsen in varying degrees over time, and even those who radically turn their lives around or pull themselves out of the abyss still have to go on doing the mundane things we all do, often suffering relapses or channeling their sobriety and sadder-but-wiser maturity into passive-aggressive preening of their own moral goodness. Most change for better or worse is undramatic, incremental, seldom revealed in a blinding flash or expressed in a climactic moment of heroic resolve. The whole cult of "redemption" has acquired a Hollywood-holy aura emanating from the therapist's couch. And when a tale of redemption becomes a success story, it's as if the monetary reward is the special prize bestowed on spiritual growth in this bountiful, forgiving land, where each closeup tear from Oprah and her readers is worth its price in gold (closing price today: $545.70 an ounce).

That's the other rub in all of this -- the money factor. Frey and his publisher are going to stick to this story because its worth a hell of a lot of money. Is it true? Who the fuck cares if it makes a lot of money for the publisher and a movie studio?


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