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For those struggling with their own substance-abuse issues, sends the message that unless you’ve reached the depths Frey describes, you don’t have anything to worry about—you’re a Fraud.
Frey’s hardcover publisher, Doubleday, is still standing by a book that Oprah helped catapult to mega-bestsellerdom, proclaiming that “recent accusations against [Frey] notwithstanding, the power of the overall reading experience is such that the book remains a deeply inspiring and redemptive story for millions of readers.” But by Frey’s own calculus, those readers are in fact owed an apology—or at least an explanation.
, Frey writes about crippling ear infections he suffered from as a child (a claim the Smoking Gun has not contested).
I grew up in a well-off suburban household with loving parents and no clear traumas in my past.
I was popular enough in high school, I joined the newspaper and acted in plays, and I got into a good college.
as Frey says he was, by 17 different publishers, before, Frey says, Doubleday’s Nan Talese said she’d publish his novel if he recast it as a memoir.
But as just about everyone in America knows by now, courtesy of a careful investigation of his supposed grim exploits conducted by the Smoking Gun, Frey’s book turns out to be just that, fiction.He drank too much, did some drugs, got nailed for a couple of DUIs and ended up, at age 23, in one of the country’s most prestigious drug-and-alcohol treatment centers.When Frey writes that, after one of his fictitious arrests, he hated himself, saw no future, and wanted to die, I believe him.Oprah might feel a bit foolish, and presumably at least some of the 3 million-plus people who bought Frey’s book will feel ripped off, but that in itself is not cause for any serious outcry.—one of the best-selling books about drug addiction ever written—has been trumpeted as an unflinching, real-life look into the world of a drug addict, it has helped to shape people’s notions about drug abuse.One counselor at an in-patient facility I attended used to publicly humiliate new patients on their first day in the program by first making them tell the group what brought them there and then quizzing them on the specifics—how many CC’s does a standard syringe hold?—until they crumbled and started telling the truth.In fact, it seems clear that Frey would have been well-served by taking the kind of unflinchingly honest look at his own life that most recovery programs demand.* Correction, January 12, 2006: This story originally and incorrectly referred to James Frey’s motivational tattoo (FTBSITTTD) as an acronym.And I certainly didn’t offer up that my first arrest occurred after a remarkably inept attempt to break into a high-school classmate’s house was foiled when his mother returned home and found my car parked out front (I referred to that as a “b&e with intent to commit a felony”), or that the second arrest was the result of my pilfering underwear and some light bulbs from my college’s bookstore.For most people, the insecurity and fear that lead to these type of exaggerations needs to fade away before they can really start trying to figure out how to go about fixing what went wrong with their lives.