In 2003, James Frey released A Million Little Pieces, a memoir detailing his 10 year battle with drug and alcohol abuse. Praised by critics and championed by Oprah Winfrey, it seemed like Frey had achieved literary success. However, fast forward 2 years and website, "The Smoking Gun", investigated the legitimacy of some of the claims made in Frey's memoir. It turns out that Frey had embellished a few of the major events within his autobiography; mostly to do with jail time and his main love interest. Unfortunately, almost all reviews and press related to this book since that time period dwell heavily on the controversy and less on the story itself and really, it's not very fair.
A lot of people felt slighted or even taken advantage of due to Frey's erroneous claims and of course, people are entitled to their own opinions; one of the reasons I even review things to begin with. I never had this problem, not once. I heard about Frey's writing style; how different and refreshing it is - I was interested. From the get-go, I basically treated the book as fiction. Sure, after it was over, I was a little curious as to what was "real" and what was "heightened" or "imagined" and I did some research. I was a little disappointed but it didn't change the effect the book had on me, I still loved it either way.
I really felt for Frey's situation. Granted, it's all self inflicted and given my stance on drugs and alcohol, I rarely am able to show sympathy for anyone who makes that life choice. With Frey - or at least Frey's version of himself - you can really tell that deep down inside, he's a nice guy and you find yourself pulling for him from the very start. Frey has a way with writing about hostility and anger that you find yourself anxious for what's going to happen next - you keep waiting for people to loose their cool. This kind of writing makes the book hard to put down.
Also posted at Every Read Thing
** This may be one of the only books I can simultaneously place on both the fiction and non-fiction shelf.