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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Frey – Fray – Fraud?

Ray’s blog about James Frey’s book, A Million Little Pieces, and Dawno’s Joining the Frey Fray blog, brought this latest news to my attention.

Can you tell I don’t get out much? I was up until 3:00 AM reading all the links from each blog and searching for others to get a better perspective on this issue.

It seems we have a man who wrote a memoir. He was fortunate to have Random House take him under his wing. He was additionaly fortunate to have his book picked for Oprah’s Book Club and the book became a best-seller. And he accomplished this because…he hoodwinked everyone.

After reading The Smoking Gun, I was appalled and distraught that there is no better perspective on this issue.

What Frey has done sickens me. He’s taken away the credibility of honest, hard working authors with his chicanery.

The Smoking Gun published an investigation about his book stating that many parts of his so-called “memoir” were fabricated. They cited proof that he lied about many incidents he said were true.
Slate had this to say about Frey.

Just in case anyone out there may have misplaced his or her dictionary, here are a few definitions for this news item.

Noun: memoir
A “true” account an author’s personal experiences.

Noun: fraud
Intentional deception resulting in injury to another person.
A person who makes deceitful pretenses.
Something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage.

Noun: chicanery
The use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them)

According to this article, Random House is offering refunds to customers who purchased the book from the publisher.

Oprah is, so far, standing by her decision to back this man and his book in her book club, stating, “What is relevant is that he was a drug addict who spent years in turmoil from the time he was 10 years old drinking and tormenting himself and his parents, and stepped out of that history to be the man that he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves.”

Touching story or not, in my opinion, what this man committed was fraud and he pulled you in as he did the publisher.

What is relevant is that he lied about many aspects of his book that was “supposed” to be “true.” It was “written” and “sold” as a memoir.

What is relevant is that The Smoking Gun’s investigation proved he lied.

What is relevant is that no one can truly believe much of anything in his book to be fact. Where do the lies end and the truth of this “supposed” memoir begin?

What is relevant is that he fabricated the truth. What kind of message are you sending to our children by saying that’s “irrelevent?” That it’s okay to lie? I don't think you believe that.

When I saw you visit Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, I could see the devastation affected you. I’ve seen how involved you are helping people all over the world. You’ve gained a lot of respect for your accomplishments. Don’t let this man taint your reputation, credibility, or the respect you’ve earned.

Anyone who justifies this man’s guile, or thinks it’s okay to pass off fiction as truth, just because what he wrote might be a good “story,” needs to get out a dictionary and look up the definitions of truth and memoir. My suggestion would be that Frey be the first to break out that dictionary.


Make me smile. Leave a comment...

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Blogger jason evans said...

Joanne, love the little graphic down there! Commenting really improves the blogging experience.

As for Frey, I disagree with Oprah. I do think that the inspirational nature of a memoir is diminished when it is fiction. A fictional character can accomplish anything.

1/17/2006 10:56 AM  
Blogger Dawno said...

Thanks for the link to the Slate article and your own well done observations.

I hope you'll forgive me for contributing to your late night up! :-)

1/17/2006 3:22 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Hi Jason. I took Dawno's advice from her blog and borrowed the graphic from the Paper Napkin. Thanks, Dawno. ;)

Evidently, Frey's fiction accomplished a lot! The point still remains that memoirs are factual accounts of an author's experience. There should be no fiction involved whatsoever. :) His fiction not only diminished a memoir, but also demolished the definition of it.

1/17/2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Oh, Dawno, no forgiveness needed. I print these things out and read them while trying to fall asleep. You're welcome for the link.

1/17/2006 6:43 PM