A Million Little Lies - January 8, 2006
here's my problem. do i read it or not?
there isn't much more to say about all this. a book isn't a memoir if things are made up. you can't remember what didn't happen. when you assert something as factual when it isn't you do so to add value, to serve your purpose. it's selfish and dishonest.
but is it ok to read this book on the merits anyway? would genuine fiction by such infamous fakers as jason blair or janet cooke be banned from your reading list? speaking for myself, i am not sure.
i stumbled upon 'a million little pieces' a few weeks ago without any knowledge of it (no, i don't live in a bubble). like many others i started to read the first few passages and was taken in (pun intended) by the graphic detail and vibrant writing. it was compelling, and if it had been marketed as a non-fiction novel i doubt any of the justified criticism would have or could have been made. and i would have bought it (pun intended).
frey did himself no favors by feigning indignance when his licenses with reality were exposed. oprah, whose selection of frey's story for her book club guaranteed its success, seemed to strengthen the sometimes criticism that she is not to be taken seriously as a literary tastemaker because she dismissed frey's deceptions as irrelevant, though it will likely have no impact on her impact. and, if the work is good, maybe it shouldn't.
but suppose we could forget all the noise and read frey's book in galley form, with no bias as to its truth, no claims about what it means, much like that tale of a literary agent who could not convince a single studio to buy an unnamed story that was, in fact, the script for 'mr smith goes to washington'? would a reader appreciate the prose, the storytelling, the book in its entirety? would a reader dismiss it as drivel unless it was a true story?
what is the correct decision? return the book to target? read it and assume everything is for dramatic effect? burn it? keep it on the bookshelf as a conversation starter?
christ. there is even talk of a class-action lawsuit ...