Oprah Got It Wrong

Last night Oprah Winfrey called into Larry King Live to support embattled author James Frey and his "memoir" A Million Little Pieces. Said Oprah:

"...the underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me, and I know it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book."

What is relevant is that he was a drug addict who spent years in turmoil from the time he was 10 years old drinking and tormenting himself and his parents, and stepped out of that history to be the man that he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves....

To me [the controversy surrounding the accuracy of his book] seems to be much ado about nothing."

Sorry Oprah. The fictionalization of key scenes of a memoir is not much ado about nothing. Read the 13,000 word investigation by The Smoking Gun. We're not talking about forgetting something or someone recalling an event differently. Frey made up entire parts of the book. (For those who don't have to time to read The Smoking Gun report, Slate carries an excellent summary of the fabrications here.)

I'm glad the underlying message of redemption resonates with you, but that doesn't make outright lying in a memoir acceptable. If Frey wished to embellish his work to that extent, he should have marketed it as fiction.

Every reader should approach a memoir (or a blog for that matter) with a grain of skepticism. Memoirs are the authors retelling of events to the best of their memory. As I stated yesterday, two people who experienced the same event could recall it differently. But the two people should agree that the event and key elements of the scene happened.

The fact that Frey went to such lengths to make him look like a bad boy (when he was really nothing of the sort) casts doubt on the rest of his story. Though no one doubts he spent time in rehab, we may never know how much of that story is real.

Instead of defending him, Oprah, you should be taking a more serious look at the allegations. Defending a liar only makes you look gullible and dumb.