Archive for May, 2011

Why Oprah insists on getting Frey-ed again…

17 May

Lately I’ve been hard at work on a draft of my literally thriller I’m dead set on finishing by the end of summer, yet I feel the need to stop for a moment and comment on James Frey’s assertion on “Oprah” that most memoirists do what he did i.e. LIE.  If you know anything about Frey’s publishing record, his wannabe memoir “A Million Little Pieces” had first been schlepped around the big houses of New York as a novel.  Only after receiving numerous rejections and a pivotal suggestion from a higher-up did he do the lowly thing of defrauding readers by passing his novel off as a memoir.  This was the act of a desperate writer.  The title of his other “memoir” that’s no longer even billed as such with the bright pink cover I’ve thankfully already forgotten.

As the author of a memoir set to come out next spring about my complicated yet loving relationship with my father, a defense lawyer who inevitably was disbarred for embezzlement, I take offense.  While I have done things such as change names, some locales, and physical characteristics, I’ve stuck to the truth as I remember it.  Make no mistake – this is not the “emotional truth” as some memoirists like to hide behind when they feel they’re about to be caught in a corner of their own creation during a panel at a writer’s conference or on “Larry King Live” as Frey did a few years back.  At the time Oprah was naively still on board voicing her influential support behind Frey via a live on-air phone call.  I’m assuming that besides the spike in ratings, this private embarrassment, not the public flogging he endured later, is why she’s brought him back to her show.

I have written a personally accurate narrative about my past derived by memory, photos and literary leg work.  What a novel way of contructing a memoir.  Do memoirists cut time in their narratives, re-imagine people, conversations and scenes?  I would hope so.  These are the techniques of the creative writer, not a lazy one who semantically spews all over the page and calls it artful steam of consciousness. The truth is Frey was never a memoirist.  He was and is a successful enough fiction writer.  Good for him.  But it would be refreshing if for once he could just stick with the facts.


ZYZZYVA Reading Saturday 5 p.m. May 14th at Skylight Books in Los Feliz

13 May

Please come to the reading this Saturday at 5 p.m. at Skylight Bookstore in LA.  Vanessa Hua and I will be reading from our works that are featured in this spring’s journal.  Laura Cogan, the new editor of ZYZZYVA, will be there as well to discuss the interesting directions this very cool and edgy outlet for west coast writers will be taking.

Skylight Books

1818 N. Vermont Ave.

Los Angeles, CA