My name is Self-Appointed Expert, and this is my blog. It is part memoir, mostly fiction, and above all just trying to be funny. Some of is based on stuff that happened to me, some is based on stuff that happened to people I know, and a good deal is just entirely made up. So, if you find yourself offended, just remember - it's a joke. When you give me that look, it's a joke. Consider it my homage to the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, A Million Little Pieces, John Hodgman, and Christopher Guest.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fact and Fiction

I have this week off, so I decided to fly home to spend a little time with my family and my dog in the interim before I start work. En route to home, I got stuck in a layover in Charlotte, NC, so I stopped at the airport bookstore to see if I could find a copy of "Opal Mehta." Since they didn't have one, I decided to get "A Million Little Pieces" instead.

Just picking it up, I felt like a badass. I felt like a rebel. Sure, I was saying with my intended reading selection, I know he's been vilified by god (Oprah) and country and lovers of the literature genre classification system worldwide, but I was fucking buying his book anyway. Without even cracking the first page, I knew I supported him, his story, his embellishments, and most of all I supported him making Oprah and her stay-at-home army of millions feel like fools for getting "duped" - and look like fools for getting pissed about it. Fuck them, I thought, and I strode up to the cash register, credit card in hand and smirk on my face. Fuck them right in their mid-afternoon programming ears.

I handed over my banned literature of choice. Proudly.

The cashier gave me a look. "People are still reading that?" she asked.

Okay. She had a point. I was sort of getting on the bandwagon a little late, but I was still getting on at the right time - after the smoking gun, after Oprah's power trip, and after the press turned reading a fucking paperback into a moral statement (without, noteably, applying the same standard to their coverage of the Bush Whitehouse). But yes, fuck you too, cashier, I was still going to read it.

"Well, you're still selling it," I replied.

I spent the rest of that day and the day after that soaking in the book. It was really, really good. Not just good for being written by a former addict. But seriously good, and really well written, and incredibly honest and insightful.

Yeah, that's right. It was one of the most honest books I've ever read. And honestly? It makes it better that parts of it were made up. Over and over again, Frey repeats the line "I am an Addict and I am an Alcholic and I am a Criminal." His entire book was based on his shortcomings, on his flaws, on his tendency to take the easy way out - and on his inability to face himself for what he had become as a result of all that. His story was his flaws. And though it was inspirational that he overcame a lot of them in the course of the book's narrative, he never made himself out to be the hero that Oprah originally tried to turn him into. If anything, he showed himself over and over again throughout the book to be exactly what he turned out to be in this scandal: a classic tragic hero, crippled by his own shortcomings at the moment he was closest to achieving his most salient personal victory.

If I were James Frey, I would be proud of my book, and I'd be proud of what it meant to people. But most of all I'd be proud of myself. And I hope that he is. And I hope that Oprah rots for making his life in recovery even one degree more difficult than it already was.

Even if he lied and it really wasn't that bad.


Blogger kayellbee said...

YAY for Jimmy and Kaavya!

P.S. Stop making me verify words!

12:37 AM


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