Wednesday, January 11, 2006

HOW JAMES FREY HAS CHANGED MY LIFE

James Frey will appear on the Larry King Live show tonight. Really? Do you think this was something that had been scheduled for awhile or did the Larry King people ask him yesterday? I've never in my life been excited to see someone on Larry King. James Frey has changed my life.

Last night, as I boxed up The Big Red One to take back to Vidiots, I stopped in front of my tv, turned the volume up, and watched the last few minutes of The Situation with Tucker Carlson, as he was talking about James Frey. Never in my life have I stopped doing something to watch more Tucker Carlson. James Frey has changed my life.

The Farmhand sent me this Oprah link last night - be sure to read it before it's taken down. This is my favorite part: Question 2. A Million Little Pieces is a nonfiction memoir, but does it also read like a novel? How does Frey create suspense and sustain narrative tension throughout? Oooh, ooh, ooh, I know! By making shit up? Never in my life have I visited the Oprah website. James Frey has changed my life.

It looks like they're still going to do the film adaptation of A Hundred Thousand Small Fragments. Weird.

Oh, and this is a great review of the book, because it's so funny. Excerpt:

But then Frey is no expert observer, as he proves in one of the funniest scenes from his nature walks, when he meets a "fat otter": "There is an island among the rot, a large, round Pile with monstrous protrusions like the arms of a Witch. There is chatter beneath the pile and a fat brown otter with a flat, armored tail climbs atop and he stares at me."

Now, can anyone tell me what a "fat otter with a flat, armored tail" actually is? That's right: a beaver! Now, can anyone guess what the "large, round Pile with monstrous protrusions like the arms of a Witch" would be? Yes indeed: a beaver dam!

Any kindergartner would know that, and anyone with a flicker of life would be delighted to see a beaver and its home. But for Frey, a very stupid and very vain man, the "fat otter" is nothing but another mirror in which to adore his Terrible Fate. He engages the beaver in the most dismal of adolescent rhetorical interrogations:

"Hey, Fat Otter.

He stares at me.

You want what I got?

He stares at me.

I'll give you everything.

Stares at me...."

And so on, for another half-page. You want to slap the sulking spoiled brat. The Fat Otter should've slapped him with its "flat, armored tail" and then chewed his leg off and used it to fortify its "Pile with monstrous protrusions."


You know, before I got sidetracked indulging my pure, visceral hatred for James Frey, this whole post was going to be about how last night, before going to bed, I tried to read some stories from Breece Pancake's short story collection, and couldn't do it. With the whole JT Leroy and James Frey debacles, I was jonesing for some real writing. I wanted to read some of those stories that had long ago made me understand, for the first time, how transcendental great writing can be. How fiction can speak to the truth of a life, and of living. Words. Put together. In such a way. In just the right way.

But I couldn't read them because I couldn't focus and I couldn't concentrate. Every sentence sent me back to the small room in which I spent my sophomore year of college, listening to Beth Orton songs and feeling sorry for myself, one hour wondering how to break up with girlfriend and the other hour wondering if I should drive the three hours to see her. It took me back to the days of driving through the hills of southeastern Ohio on a cloudy Sunday afternoon, trying to find the perfect dirt road. I've read the stories so many times it's become difficult to parse what they are from what I've always made them to be. If I have time, I'll try to post Trilobites, his best story, as a PDF. Then you can read it yourself, if you can concentrate long enough.


Breece Pancake, above, a phenomenal writer, killed himself when he was 27, because he knew that he could not live in a world occupied by James Frey.

1 comment:

Trevor Jackson said...

I'd never heard of Pancake, Masto. I skimmed a brief bio of him. I look forward to the pdf.

He's an interesting choice to compare to Frey given Pancake's manipulation of his own public persona and history through his writing.