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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fiction or nonfiction?

Maybe you've read about the flap over James Frey's memoir, A Million Little Pieces. I haven't read the book, but I've read several reviews on blogs and one in print in the Wall Street Journal. If you haven't come across it yet, it seems that Frey has apparently made up most of the story, based on some true episodes in his life, and is passing the story off as nonfiction. The publishers are saying the book reflects his perceptions, etc., so it qualifies as memoir, but a few people have checked the facts and they appear to be distorted beyond recognition or possibly even made up. That sounds like fiction to me. The buzz is that the book is an inspiring story of rehabilitation. Maybe it wouldn't seem so inspiring if it were presented as fiction--and more importantly, maybe it wouldn't sell as well. Sounds to me like deficiencies in writer's and publisher's ethics. If a story isn't true, it's fiction....isn't it?

Here's something from the New York Times: Writer Says He Made Up Some Details. I'm interested to see what the Author's Guild has to say about it.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Karen Winters said...

I say it's fiction and unethical to foist something off as a completely "true story" when it isn't. But then, I'm not a big fan of "truth lite." I am surprised and saddened that Oprah has continued to support this book. The work strikes me as being similar in intention to the "pious fictions" of the early church. It may be a lie, but it makes a good story and wins converts (or sympathetic readers.) Maybe some of the book was true, but the fact that he embellished it so lavishly to make a sale points to his enduring (and unredeemed) character as a con man, a variety of sociopath.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Nita said...

Thanks for the succinct comment. I was beginning to think I was stirring a tempest in a teapot.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Karen Winters said...

I love tea ... and tempests, too!

1:09 AM  

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