Wednesday, January 11, 2006

TRILOBITES

If you'd like to print out and read the short story Trilobites, you can find the PDF here.

Trevor brought up a good point in his last comment. Pancake was not a dirt poor good ole boy from the hills and hillocks of West Virginia, but he passed himself off as that and that perspective was reflected in his stories. I suppose writers and other dramatists have an innate sense of romance; instead of shaping yourself to fit into the world, there is the desire to shape the world to fit your idea of what it should be.

Either way, I didn't know much about Pancake before I started reading his stories, but you can tell they come from a very real place. Even if they didn't - even if they were written by a middle-aged homemaker from Myrtle Beach - the writing is fantastic. No excessive prose, just lean and poetic. Good stuff.

JAMES FREY UPDATE: In an uprecedented move, Random House offers a refund for A Million Little Pieces. My Schadenfreude can now no longer be measured by numbers, but rather by imaginary numbers, and logarithms, and the like.

17 comments:

King Koopa said...

I don't have cable, but this morning I read the transcript of Larry King w/ James Frey last night. I kept thinking about whether this book would still matter to people who struggle with drug/alcohol, since a friend of mine just got out of a halfway house (and is already halfway on his way back in...). It sounds to me like the emotional impact and the life lessons this guy has learned are still basically applicable to people with addictions. His experiences haven't been as horrendous or violent, but I don't think that matters, it just makes him less hardcore than he made himself out to be. Addiction is addiction, and successful recovery is still the point of the book. Basically, I came away thinking this is still a book that could help people like my freind, but I'd feel better knowing what I know before reading the book.

Mathis said...

Aargh. The point is that he fabricated much, if not all of the things that actually could be disproven. What then of the things in the book that couldn't be proven or disproven? Are we to take them at his word? He's a fucking liar. He sold a lot of books. Oprah doesn't want egg on her face. The Larry King show was disappointing because it gave Frey an opportunity to frame the debate without being asked any difficult questions. This is a debate about two things - 1) If I produce a work that is purported to be true, and it turns out not to be so, does that taint the work? and 2) Is this good literature?

A lot of people wouldn't have as great a problem with this book if it weren't for Frey himself, who basically said that he was the best writer of his generation and then published this book, which contains writing not dissimilar to a lot of high-school journals, and in which many of the storylines and characters are tired cliches. People are angry at his poor craftmanship and at the fact that he is a LIAR. As to whether people find comfort or power from the book, who cares? People find help from all kind of books.

You say "His experiences haven't been as horrendous or violent, but I don't think that matters." Right. Because he made up the fact that he ever went to jail. Doesn't matter. Memoir. What's a memoir, anyway? Let's not call him a liar, let's just redefine what memoir means.

King Koopa said...

I'm not one who can persuasively argue about the literary greatness of this book, or any other for that matter. I don't disagree with anything you said or your point of view at all. It's just that there's a certain portion of the population, who could still find value out of this book, ie my friend. I wouldn't think "Tuesday's With Morry" is going to be regarded as great literature either, but people find still find profound value in it. Neither book should be added to the canon of great literature, fine. The rest of the issues you brought up are still valid and are interesting things to talk about too. I just think it's still got a potential to be an impactful book to some people. But, I can see how this whole thing is frustrating and enfuriating to people who take literature seriously.

Could an apt comparison be made between this discussion and the discussion over whether sample-based music can be as important as "live" music made by "real" musicians? Hmmm, I think so...and maybe I'll elaborate on my blog.

Mathis said...

Could an apt comparison be made between this discussion and the discussion over whether sample-based music can be as important as "live" music made by "real" musicians? Hmmm, I think so...and maybe I'll elaborate on my blog.

Not really, no.

Seriously, you just don't care that he's a liar? That his book is based on being honest with himself and "fucking the bullshit," yet he himself is full of bullshit? What good is a book that purports to be raw and real and full of truth that is actually neither raw nor real nor full of truth?

King Koopa said...

I don't care as much as you do, let's put it that way. I still think ficional books can be personally impacting and profoundly affecting and I would want to know whether what I was reading was fiction or not. Now I know. I have no plans to read the book but, I still think if you knew going in that he lied about the extent of things, you could still read the book and get something out of it.

I still think this is comparable to musicians who still get all riled up about sample-based music. Sample-based music matters a lot to some of them.

I do appreciate the laughable irony surrounding the tattoo, but I think you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as they say.

Mathis said...

You say you don't care yet you still care enough to turn it into what you want it to be about, something not even remotely analogous to the concept of a person writing the story of their own life.

King Koopa said...

"you still care enough to turn it into what you want it to be about"

Do you really think you're doing anything different? Please. Check yourself.

Or, is it that your opinions, concerns, and perspectives just "matter" more? I'm sure your perspective is shared by many...especially people who care deeply about literature. Why can't you admit that if this book can still profoundly affect certain people with addictions, that in itself makes this book worth something? What makes the effect it has on them any less real or profound than something that you glean from Mr. Pancake? I'm haven't discounted your perspective, so why are you discounting mine?

Mathis said...

MY GOD.

This is about a person who claimed he lived a certain life. He wrote a book about that life. Turns out that that was not the life he lived. He made it up. It is bullshit. He is a liar. He has made a great profit from this lie. Had his book been sold as fiction, he would not have made as much money. He knows this. Everyone knows this. I could care less who the book helps or why.

What on earth does that have to do with sampling music?

Mathis said...

Just read this.

Your friend would do well to stay away from books full of embellishment and bragadaccio and, instead, just stop fucking drinking because he wants or needs to.

King Koopa said...

For two people who haven't read this book and don't intend to, we sure are passionate.

So, you care about him making money off a book that should've been filed in the "Fiction" section of Borders and should've featured a character named something other than "James Frey". Fine. Wouldn't that have eliminated all of this controversy but still kept the message in the book the exact same?

You'll have to check my blog tomorrow if you want to know what on earth this has to do with sampling music. No sneak peaks.

Mathis said...

Wouldn't that have eliminated all of this controversy

Uh, not to state the completely obvious, but yeah.

but still kept the message in the book the exact same?

Absolutely not. The message of the book is completely compromised. Just read the Slate article; it says things better than I can, and it comes from a previous addict who actually read the book.

Mathis said...

Also, you better pull something completely brilliant out of your ass regarding the sampling of music versus live music thing.

A song doesn't inspire people to get over drug addiction. A sampled song doesn't LIE about the musician's LIFE. WHAT THE FUCK KOOPA.

King Koopa said...

This is neither here nor there, but obviously, you haven't heard Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5's, "White Lines (Don't Do It)". That song manages to do both:

It's an anti-cocaine song using samples by a rapper who was still doing those white lines he was advising everybody else not to.

I'll email it to you just for kicks...

I guess it's debatable whether this book is/was helpful to recovering addicts. I read that guy's 2004 article about his heroin addiction so I respect his point of view.

Prepare yourself for brilliance, Masty. Blinding brilliance. Sample-based brilliance.

Trevor Jackson said...

I was going to suggest you read this, but your link is a little more on topic.

Can we talk about that faker Pancake now? (That's a joke.) Thanks for the story. I'm still reading it.

King Koopa said...

By the way, I'm convinced that James Frey has no problem lying in that book because that's what he was taught back in college. Everybody who went to that school must have learned the same lie-centric methods. Like Michael Eisner, for instance. And...there's somebody else that I was thinking about, but I just can't remember...oh yeah, Senator Richard Lugar. That's who I was thinking about.

T.S. Farmhand said...

why can't you admit that if this book can still profoundly affect certain people with addictions, that in itself makes this book worth something?

It's kind of like the bible that way. Sure, a lot of that Jesus stuff is made up, but that's only about 5% of the thing. The bible does something for people, so why get all picky about what's real and what's a bunch of bullshit added by people several generations after the fact? Puh-lease.

Mathis said...

Also, is Trevor the only reading Trilobites? Let me if you like it or not, TJ.