Into the literary Frey
By David Larsen
I still believe he’s a very talented writer and suspect we haven’t heard the last of James Frey.”
True words, as it turned out. “True words” being the kind Frey once claimed to write, which is why Kassie Evashevski, Frey’s literary agent, who made this comment in 2006, did so while announcing her decision to drop him as a client.
It had emerged that Frey’s bestselling memoir of drug addiction and recovery, A Million Little Pieces, was at least somewhat fictional. Oprah Winfrey had invited him and his publisher on to her show, then demanded they apologise for lying about the book’s veracity. The publisher subsequently offered a refund to anyone who had bought the book under the impression it was a true story.
So Frey went off into the wilderness and pondered on his transgressions and the terrible damage he had done to his reputation. He emerged years later, a quieter, gentler writer, and from that time forth wrote only quiet, gentle short stories, which attracted a small but discerning readership. He insisted his story collections be clearly labelled “fiction”.