Thursday, January 12, 2006

I will gladly fib if there's a six-figure book deal in it for me...

I have learned, via my blogging idol James Wolcott, that the
publishing industry has quite the scandal on its hands. Ap-
parently, James Frey’s Oprah-approved memoir about his
life as a drug-addled, amoral beast might not be the scrup-
ulous recording of facts many of its admirers take it as
. In
fact, Frey might not be a drug-addled, amoral beast at all.
He might just be a very lucky bullshitter. This should, I
supposed, come as good news to all those who care for him.
“Hey! Jimmy didn’t get into a crack-fueled slap fight with
the cops after all!” they can now say, “He just made that up!
Whew! I was worried about him for awhile!”

This is an interesting story to me. As a writer, I don’t have
much trouble admitting that I take liberties when I relate
events that actually happened. I don’t lie, but I sure do
polish the truth up a bit. Memories are supplemented with
guesses, dialogue is given a greater sheen of wit, and the
important moments are isolated and burnished for narr-
ative effect. This isn’t done to be deceptive, though, it’s
done so that an episode that means something to me can
more easily mean something to others. I want what I
write to be interesting and I’m willing to play around
with the clay of historical truth so that this can be accomp-

That being said, I can assure you that I don’t just make
shit up. I try to hew fairly closely to the thread of actuality.
I embroider it, I don’t just throw it away and let my imag-
ination take over, at least not in the writing I present as
memoirs. If these charges are true, Mr. Frey obviously
has a different policy. His is wrong and dishonest. If he
did what the Smoking Gun says he did–which is basically
lie in the faces of his trusting readers over and over again–
he should apologize. That’s a mean thing to do, especially
to the people struggling with substance issues who have
held him up as an inspiration.

Okay. With that out of the way, allow me to offer my life
story to any interested publishing house. Too Glamorous,
Too Soon: Blogging Hard-Core From the Fast Lane to the
Gutter is a shocking, sordid, yet ultimately uplifting tale of
one man’s struggle to conquer his demons while occasionally
posting items to his website. Perhaps I haven’t been attack-
ed by sex-mad Parisian priests or committed a string of
petty crimes to support a massive crack habit, but I speak
a little French and get a mild headache whenever I don’t
get my hourly caffeine fix. Isn’t that good enough for you,
Oprah? How about you, Larry King? I mean, seriously,
here’s just a modest sampling of the human car-wreck
voyeurism you’ll get to indulge in between the covers of
my hypothetical tell-all confessional:

—Thrill! as the origins of my name are finally revealed: my
mother, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, was climbing
into a barnyard pen to have a look at a pony. She slipped
and fell and wound up in labor. Several hours later, there
I was, a squalling pink thing named “Kevin”, after the
animal that was so fascinating it compelled my mom to
scale fences late in her third trimester. Hell, at least the
goddamn thing wasn’t called “Windjammer”, but never mind
about that...

—Gasp! at the evidence of a childhood out of control: my
brother had a stuffed dinosaur toy he carried around all the
time. He called it “Phyta”. One day, we were taking a family
drive to see grandma and, when our car was pulling away
from the curb, we went over a bump. “What was that?” my
dad asked. “Tee-hee!” I said, because I had, not twenty
minutes earlier, placed Phyta under the right rear tire!

—Marvel! as I go away to college and declare a
obsession! For the first time anywhere, I relate the story
of how I attempted to seduce the awesomely-attractive, doe-
eyed Brazilian exchange student by pointing out that I knew
that “her people” spoke Portugese, not Spanish. Roll your
eyes as I insist that this approach “almost worked”.

—Swoon! to my breathless summary of my New York years,
including the time I met Fran Drescher, television’s screechy-
voiced and beloved “Nanny”!

—Go Nuts! as I return to the Twin Cities and, shortly there-
after, find work in a place that treats mentally disturbed
teenagers, who then proceed to annoy me to the point that I
seriously consider giving myself a vasectomy in the break

And that’s just a taste, Oprah. Just a taste.

I will await a call from your people.