Wednesday, May. 25, 2011

A Million Little Lies

Don't lie to Oprah. James Frey learned this lesson the hard way when he presented A Million Little Pieces, his embellished memoir, as fact. Touched by Frey's supposedly true story of substance abuse and redemption, Oprah made Pieces an official book club selection in 2005. The following January, the Smoking Gun published a detailed account of the book's inaccuracies, including the fact that Frey never served jail time, as he claims in the book. Embarrassed, Oprah called the author back on the show and delivered a very public scolding. "I have to say it is difficult for me to talk to you," she told her sheepish guest. "I really feel duped." Frey's publisher, Nan Talese, also appeared on the show, admitting that Doubleday had not done anything to verify his story. Because of the scandal, Frey's literary agent dropped him, and his two-book deal (worth seven figures) was voided. Needless to say, his next book, published in 2008, was clearly labeled "fiction."