Skip to main content


January 12, 2006

My Week in January With James Frey

Posted by admin

I know there has been just a "wee bit" of media about James Frey and A MILLION LITTLE PIECES this week hence I lace the title of this blog with its own tone of hyperbole as I feel like I am spending the week with James Frey. I am starting to feel like I know James Frey. Full disclosure here: I once passed James Frey in a hallway at Penguin Putnam when I was there for a meeting. I hope he does not remember it and write about me.

I am not going to rehash the news, but here are my thoughts:

1) What does it say that a memoir that clearly was moving and emotionally packed required any fiction? Do we readers need "more" than the truth to make a memoir work?

2) For Frey's appearance on Larry King --- and the well-timed Oprah call during this broadcast --- may I extol the merits of media training. There is nothing like having a crisis and then practicing measured responses to every potential question. Like any moment of that night was spontaneous. Especially the love fest between King and Oprah. You have to love media in America today. All we needed was a score under it and credits. Amazing. It was a busy week behind the scenes. That alone could be a book.

3) I want to thank the people at The Smoking Gun. They perked up January, created amazing buzz at publishing watercoolers and made book discussion --- news!

4) There are a lot of people on the web who think that they are funny and clever. And a moment like this is a good one for them to impersonate the story with a clever headline (A Million Little Lies is an example). Now many of these people are not funny. As my business partner, Jesse Kornbluth said, "This is the oldest problem with the Internet --- people who can't write (but who THINK they're funny). We saw a lot of them this week. I am waiting for the graphic guys to get on the bandwagon. Often they are funny.

5) I wonder --- were there more words written and spoken about the book than are in the book?

6) For the record, if I write my memoir and find a need to embellish, I will not be in jail or down and out. I instead will be able to sing on key. I will not bite my nails. I also will play more than one instrument, speak a few languages fluently and exercise for an hour a day. Hey, I spent 17 years at a fashion magazine. I was trained to think to spin it better.

7) It's been fun talking to people who are discovering the book for the first time. This proves that a book that has sold 1.8 million copies, has been number one on the NYT paperback list for weeks and has been featured on Oprah STILL is not known by everyone.

8) I have had friends calling and e-mailing me to tell me about this story since they know I have a book site. They say, "Did you hear about the guy who wrote this book and it may not be true?" This amuses me. It's like I have not seen the cover of every paper or the front screen of AOL. It even made the news channel in our elevator. And in every place Frey's name and the title of the book have been spelled right!

9) The Book Report Network has been having its own special Frey moment these past months. Google "Million Little Pieces Discussion Guide." Our site has the top two search returns. This has us beating Amazon, Oprah and Random House. For the record, the same thing happens with "Million Little Pieces Reading Group Guide." This makes me very happy. Think of all the people who will discover after doing this. This makes me more happy.

10) I am betting this sells a lot of books. Seriously. This is America.