Out of the Freying Pan…Into the Fire

The James Frey fiasco is slowly winding down, but not before one significant development and the publication of a few interesting articles.

The development:
As I predicted — rather wryly, I might add — James Frey is looking at a class action lawsuit.

The articles (and some quick commentary):
Seth Mnookin, a former drug addict (or so he claims!), rips James Frey a new one in an article that he penned for Slate. It seems that Seth shares my opinion about Frey’s writing “style.” But beyond that, he takes the book to task on its own merits…or lack of them. The characters are clichéd, and unsurprisingly in light of Frey’s background as a Hollywood hack, actually seem to fit right into the archetypes that are so popular in modern American cinema. My favorite part of the piece is an excerpt from the book. Here’s the context: a rock star visits the rehab clinic and talks about how much money went up his nose — blah, blah, blah. More hackneyed bullshit. The wonderful hypocrisy of Frey’s mental response (if we go out on a limb and assume that such an event even took place) follows.

…I would tell him that if I ever heard of him spewing his bullshit fantasies in Public again, I would cut off his precious hair, scar his precious lips, and take all of his goddamn gold records and shove them straight up his ass.

I guess little Jimmy Frey wants to keep all of the bullshit fantasies to himself.

The other article that caught my eye was Marc Peyser’s piece in Newsweek. Peyser begins thusly:

James Frey is not a guy who backs away from a fight. He’s got a pit bull. He’s got a mean tongue, too.

Hold that thought; there is a big juicy hanging curveball coming up and I can’t resist the urge to swing from the heels.

A few years ago he told a reporter that Dave Eggers’s “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” “pissed me off because a book that I thought was mediocre was being hailed as the best book written by the best writer of my generation.”

This coming from the guy who wrote Kissing a Fool? Phew, had to do it. What can I say? I was weak and couldn’t resist the urge. But I digress and so should you. Peyser’s piece frustrates me because the author is clearly a pretty bright guy, but let’s get real here — James Frey’s whole persona is some unholy mix of affectation and acting.

Shooting fish (mackerel, the holy kind) in a barrel, but like the Slate article, the Newsweek piece pulls a little hypocritical nugget from A Million Little Pieces: “I don’t accept excuses for failure or deflect what is essentially a problem I have caused.”

Draw your own conclusions.

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