Prose Toad Literary Blog

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

HOOPLA ON FREY by P.L. George


With the cascading accusations swirling around James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces”, I thought I’d drop in my two cents from dreary little Oklahoma. As writers know, artistic license must be a part of any endeavor of a work of art. Lies must occur because the mundaneness of real life is just not that exciting.

With a memoir, at least for me, the story becomes secondary. With this type of piece, especially with the drinking and pills and how they were brought down like a hammer in the amounts of consumption, Frey was doing something extraordinary. For this I’d like you to consider Hemingway. While he is considered a great writer in academia and in literary history, I find that his stories are at best average. And while I may offend a lot of people that genuflect at his altar, his stories are not what we fell in love with. He was a rugged author that for his time, lived a life, all true or not that most men wished they had the courage to live.

Frey in modern day was and is trying to build a literary legend of himself, though the rehab and redemption makes me take some of this back. Although “On the Road” by Kerouac was a fictional piece, his received legendary position in the literary hierarchy for his way of life. Most believed he’d lived all of it, though those who knew him said pool hall scenes with Neal Cassidy were just that, shooting pool and drinking beer.

Jack London never led huskies into a snowy wilderness. He would sit in bars in the Yukon and listen to the others that lived it every day. But London, as we picture him, is to be extraordinary, a testosterone driven male, the throwback to the hard driven, drunk, liquored up author that we all think he was. And you can’t fault Frey for wanting some of this.

I honestly don’t care if he lied. It’s a damn good book. I know he created a lot of envious energy in New York among the literary elites, which is probably the source of the flogging he’s receiving now. But those cold, concrete, sedate WASP’s needed a fire under them. A good purge of their staunch encampments. I think most of the criticism comes from “why didn’t I think of writing that?” mentality. And then the small fame or infamy (pick your poison) that he enjoys just set his jealous critics over the edge.

Frey can’t be faulted, he’s human, which is all we can expect. Fiction, memoir, whatever, everything that is written is painted with the fine line of subjectivity. In laymen’s terms, no one wants to read boring shit. The world is full of boring books written by boring authors that have received accolades from well-connected peers. It was time for a man like Frey to set the house on fire.

And the Oprah viewers just need to grow up into adults. Shocked and dumbfounded at such lies, I wonder what type of Pleasantville town they live in. No, children need not apply. At least in the real world or in this instance the naked ambition of an author.

Leave Frey alone, he’s only trying to build a myth. Which is secretly how any writer worth his weight would like to be remembered.

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