Thursday, January 12, 2006

Joining the Frey Fray

Yeah, that pun is overworked - it's cliche. But, I read on Ray's blog about what his friend (and I think mine too, but it might be another Lori) wrote which I have swiped from Ray's blog:

Whether or not you like Oprah is not really the issue. Her bookclub is a powerful marketing tool and, as an individual, she is a powerful, public persona. The fact that she continues to support a writer who has engaged in unethical behavior is disappointing and tarnishes her by association. If you agree, send a polite e-mail saying so and explaining why.

OK, if you don't know the background to this:

Here's what I think urks writers about this: A writers job is to be honest. If it's fiction, sell it as fiction. If it's highly fictionalized but based in reality, say so. I still consider myself a wannabe writer so I don't want anyone to think I'm arrogant enough to think I'm speaking for all of them, but I've been hanging out with writers for about a year now (albeit virtually) and I think I have a good idea about what they're thinking. If you want to read some posts that writers have made about the whole deal there's a thread on the Absolute Write Water Cooler forum all about this.

Another thing that makes me think I'm right about what writers might feel about this issue is I'm listening to Stephen King's On Writing (I got the audio book for my iPod (thank you Sweetie!!), unabridged, read by Mr. King - it is soooooooooo !w00t!!1! kewl to hear him read his own work.)

He says over and over that a writer is to tell the truth, even if they are writing fiction - be truthful about the thoughts, feelings, dialog. I'm sure if he were writing about non-fiction he'd say be truthful about how you tell the truth - don't embellish to make it more interesting. And - just a little "IMO", talk about honest writing, the stuff King lays out for the world to know about him is pretty intense.

Well, nuff said about the whole Frey thing.

You only have a few more days to celebrate De Lurking Week - are you commenting? I hope so.

And a big W00T too Sthrnwriter, Joanne, and Kira whose MondayMeme responses I found via the technorati tag.

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Tish G. said...

Hi Dawn,

The whole Frey thing made me think of writer Stephen Elliott, who I had the (pleasure/displeasure I don't know) of meeting once. He wrote something titled Happy Baby that is about some guy who is abused as a kid and ends up a totally screwed up adult.

H.B.'s been touted as quasi memoir, yet Elliott never said what he was writing was fact from his life, although he did like to claim some of the experiences of the main character *might be* like those he experienced.

That's the difference between Frey and Elliott--Elliott at least has the personal integrity to NOT say what he's writing in Happy Baby is totally his own memoir.

So, why migh Frey have claimed his fiction was memoir? Real simple: memoir gets better reviews and press than fiction. People like Oprah love a good sob story, esp. if it's connected to someone who's amazingly charming. Which makes the whole thing amazingly pathetic.

Dawno said...

Do I remember correctly that there's been some flak about Augusten Burroughs' memoir books as well? Again, he's created a quite horrific history and asked us all to believe it's true. I know that I tried to read Running With Scissors with an open mind but I just couldn't buy it.

I agree with your assessment and conclusion, it's pathetic.

Thumper said...

If Frey made it all up, then he should have to pay it all back--the advance, the royalties, everything--especially if no one at the publishing house had a clue, and he should have to lick Oprah's shoes on live TV.

But I'm not jumping on an anti-Frey bandwagon yet, because all we have is what the Smoking Gun says. They followed a paper trail, but that's not an honest to goodness trial, and it's not 100% proof that he lied.

But I am glad I didn't buy his book... ;)

Andrea said...

According to the Book Standard website Frey's book ranked number 2 on the top 200 bestselling books of 2005. I would hate to be him if he had to give all that money back but if he lied, he lied.

Paprikapink said...

Ducking while I say this ...

I don't think it's such a big deal. I'm with Oprah on this one.

Ray Wong said...

It's a big deal for all of us who tries to make it the honest way. If you never went to jail, don't say you did and all that horrible things happened to you. If you never caused an accident that killed people, don't say you did. Lies hurt in a long run, even if it doesn't seem that way at first. And what is Oprah and Frey saying to everyone? "Lying is okay, as long as you achieve what you want." That's a REALLY bad message for the world, which is already so f**ked up as it is.

Tish G. said...

I really have to agree with Ray. If somebody's going to write fiction that might touch on something one went thru--then say it's fiction, not memoir. Have some integrity!

Dawn...I've heard about the Burroughs book. Living in W. Mass, his book's sensationalism outranked Tracey Kidder's "Hometown" whose content is real. I'm not sure of the details of Burroughs book, but I know some folks have told me that he published addresses, and that a lot of people have been able to find the locales.

Personally, I put Burroughs in that "boring, whiny, pretentious" category. I'm just not interested in reading that kind of stuff. give me "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" anytime

Cookie said...

I also agree with Ray. If you are selling "your life story", it really should be your life's story. Fibbing is fine if you're talking about the one that got away, but not when it is on such a grand scale.

Frankly, I'm not surprized that Oprah is standing by him. People who will do anything to be noticed, get "fame" or money tend to flock together.

Oh, and, Dawn, you don't have to be published to be "writer". Just putting the words together makes you one. Shame on you for forgetting that.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thanks for mentioning my meme in your post, Dawno. I'll read all the pertinent links and post a blog about my feelings on ths Frazzled Frey fraud as soon as possible. I've already commented on Ray's blog. Your links are great and really help get to all the right places. Thanks for the info.

I suppose I'll end up with another passionate rant about this deal! :D