After the revelations published by The Smoking Gun about A Million Little Pieces, James Frey has remained on the defensive, continuing to claim that his book is factual, despite it seeming that every week brings news that a new piece of information in it was a lie.
When he went on the Larry King show, Oprah Winfrey called up to defend him, say effectively that the truth didn’t matter, it was the ‘overall reading experience’ that mattered. Sort of another fake but accurate defence. It would seem that since then quite a number of people have called her on the logical, if not moral, inconsistency of her defence of James Frey. The Stephen Dubner, of Freakanomics fame, put up the idea that she was just trying to defend her next, possibly fantastical biographical book. It would seem though that she has actually listened to the criticisms and has realised that the guy is a liar and she said so in her most recent show.
Oprah: You went to the dentist. What’s true about the dentist?
James: I mean, I went to the dentist. I had my front four teeth repaired …as I remember it.
Oprah: With Novocain?
James: I honestly have no idea.
Oprah: Well then why did you say you didn’t have Novocain? Because, you know, the last time I went to the dentist, my dentist said that could not have happened. And I said, ‘Oh no. It happened. He told me it happened.’ …So, why did you do that?
James: I mean, once I talked to the person at the facility about it, you know, the book had been out for nine months. We’d already done a lot of interviews about it. … Since that time I’ve struggled with the idea of it…”
Oprah: No, the lie of it. That’s a lie. It’s not an idea, James. That’s a lie.
As Steven Levitt on the Freakanomics blog said:
She more than redeemed herself on her show today with James Frey as her guest. Unlike Larry King, who tossed softball after softball to Frey, she repeatedly asked the hard questions. And it became increasingly clear that just about everything interesting in his memoirs is made up.
I admire someone who can change their mind and admit a mistake like Oprah did today. It is even harder to do so in front of millions of people.
Meanwhile it’s good to see that James Frey’s creativity has inspired a new generation of writers.