Friday, January 27, 2006

"Truth is truer these days, truth is man made."

I watched the James Frey flogging on Oprah yesterday and it's left me feeling kind of sorry for him. Don't get me wrong, he can go cry like a bitch on his big bed of money...but, I have to say there was just something "not right" about him. He seemed lost. He was babbling, not the babble of someone caught in a lie, but rather that of someone caught inside of a lie. He couldn't seem to find his bearings or his way out. He couldn't answer direct questions and stammered so much, I wondered if he hadn't popped a quaalude before the show. While Oprah spoke with the other guests he sat there, child-like, waiting for the principal to stop saying those bad things about him to his mommy. It was really disturbing.
I haven't read his book, because it kind of always seemed like a piece of shit to me. I have read many memoirs though and I can say as an experienced reader that I've taken every one of them with a grain of salt (as the cliche goes). Maybe I'm a cynic, but I rarely believe 100% of what I read, even when it claims to be "the truth." After all, isn't "personal truth" by definition subjective. Time, passes...details get fuzzy and all you have is what you remember. I always think of those conversations with friends that go something like this:
"You said that you were coming, I totally told you about this."
"No you didn't."
"Yes, I answered me, we made plans and everything."
"No way, dude...I totally don't remember you ever telling me about it."
Who's truth can be fact-checked in that instance? Is either party consciously "LYING?" Are we expected to be held accountable for the tricks our own minds play on what really happens in the fact of our lives?
I'm not saying that we should excuse this dork. By all means, string him his book sales soar. I just wonder if for all of Oprah's posturing about the importance of TRUTH, she actually understands it herself.
After all she hosts a talk show and offers people the chance to share their "sides of the story." Why share sides, if only one finite truth exists?
I agree that in this particular time, in America, truth has been cleared from the road in favor of semantics and distractions, both on television ("reality" t.v.) and in politics (yes, we get it...."International"...NOT "domestic" wire taps....sure, okay, okay), but then, I ask Oprah, why not swing the bat at the liars who really matter?
Sure, James Frey wrote a book and you believed that story to be true. Alright, you feel betrayed, I get it....but, I don't respect you for it.
I'll start respecting you, Oprah, when George W., Donald Rumsfeld, Condie Rice, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are all sitting in your hotseat, taking the blows. Then I might give a rats ass.

From an interview with James Frey in April of 2003

You say that you don't want A Million Little Pieces to be known as a recovery memoir, and you're hoping that publishing the book with Nan Talese and Co. will help eschew that generalization. What about Ms. Talese and
Co. will help achieve that, do you think, and what (other than 'recovery memoir') are you hoping the book will be known as?
Nan is the premiere literary editor in our country. She works with some of the best writers in the world: Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Pat Conroy, Jennifer Egan. She doesn't publish crap, and she doesn't publish sappy, bullshit memoirs. Having her name on my book gives it instant legitimacy.

If it were my choice, it would be listed as literature. It doesn't really matter though. What matters is how many people read it and how it affects them.

Speaking of memoirs, are there any autobiographies or memoirs that you're particularly fond of?
I love Charles Baudelaire. I love Celine and Henry Miller. I love Charles Bukowski and Pat Conroy and Tim O'Brien and Brett Easton Ellis. None of these guys actually wrote memoirs, but they all wrote about themselves. Though I used my real name, I consider my work in the same tradition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you are a miss smarty pants with yer smart talk.

- tawnya