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January 15, 2006

Frey's Lies - A Million Little Dollars' Worth

It's not easy to grow up hard, to suffer abuse and loneliness; to travel a road of persecution, institutional life, violence, and addiction; of jails and rehabs, of nights where you put yourself through it again and again, your self-administered medication threatening your very life; amazed when you see the dawn's light one more time. Amazed that the part of you that is trying to kill you has once again, somehow been bested by the part of you that wants you to live.

There are many horrific, lonely, moments in this road, and they can stretch out like a chasm that swallows up every bit of light in the sky. These chasms rip across lives and souls; they swallow hope, years, love, and belief, and claim many, many casualties, even entire families and generations—gutting the very essence of a person, haunting them and stealing away their center. This is an old story, and an enemy that never grows stronger when confronted with truth. This beast that the book A Million Little Pieces is supposed to be about, only grows stronger in the dark; in the lack; in a lie. But I thought you'd know that, Mister Frey.

It is to this mass spiritual grave that grows over the years to which we owe our honesty, when we retell these stories. Telling these stories is what allows those who suffer such a path to feel they have not wasted their entire life; the tale is the coin they have earned and have the right to spend. To steal this coin is worse than stealing food from a baby's hands. Because it perverts the true Tale that must always be told and sullies it with self-interest, immaturity, lies. It obscures the truth, and it dishonors the many who have truly walked that path, and given their blood or lives in doing so. and And this is why I condemn James Frey, who wrote a fiction book but weakly went along with his publishers when they suggested that he dress it up as "Non-fiction."

Money made that choice. Not Truth. That's right, surprise, surprise. The "Million Little Pieces" are currency.

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."

Seth Mnookin, "How James Frey flunked rehab, and why his fakery matters"

Oprah Winfrey, on her own (admirably motivated) crusade to tell every self-actualized person's story on her show before we all finally go up in a petroleum mushroom cloud, rolled up right behind Mr. Frey, because he fit into the mise-en-scene of her Parade. It would be like Lou Dobbs finding a xenophobic Customs Offical who was fired for being overzealous. I think Lou would smile so wide, his head would fall off, and before you know it, CNN would be rolling out stickers with this border guard's face on it. Even if half the world were sending Mr. Dobbs email opining that the guard was out of line when he physically attacked a puerto rican kid waving a Puerto Rican flag in Texas, Lou probably wouldn't budge. Just like Oprah. Is she standing behind a liar and a fraud because she cannot see beyond her own all-consuming mission, and needs any symbol available to help bolster her crusade? Or is that she needs to stand behind her original decision, even if it was wrong, because she's afraid she would look stupid, now?

Or is it just money that keeps her preachifying the praises of her false prophet?

Whatever the reason, I cannot once again salute the creeping death called "Ends Justify the Means" that is sprouting lately in this land. It does matter if the tale is true. That way, when someone is suffering, empty, and in need of one grain of hope that they can grab on to, they can find a story of somebody else who has traveled the same path. They can rest every bit of their precious dwindling faith in the assurance that if someone else made it, so can I. They can tell themselves I can have the courage to admit the truth to myself...because this person did.

Oprah says she stands behind the book anyway, because it helps so many people. Again, the Ends Justify the Means, she pleads with us.

But James Frey is not helping suffering addicts with his tall tales. He is hurting them. If he wants a piece of the glory that he has stolen and wrapped around his quaking shoulders, let him try some honesty. Let him stare into himself and tell of what he really sees.

joaquín ramón herrera writes for children, adults, and other humans found elsewhere in the continuum of development. He is also an illustrator, musician, and surprise protagonist. If you have found his glasses, wallet, or keys, please contact him here.

(neuralpermalink established at 08:46)