The dual deceptions of memoirists James Frey and J.T. LeRoy have raised questions about truth in creative non-fiction, the publicists’ role in promoting that truth correctly, and just what “memoir” means…
The dual deceptions of memoirists James Frey and J.T. LeRoy have raised questions about truth in creative non-fiction, the publicists’ role in promoting that truth correctly, and just what “memoir” means when the writer’s recall and perceptions are his own. PopMatters’ writers and contributors dig into the scandal, finding their own truthful reactions and responses to lit’s latest tricksters. Mark Mordue looks at essential truth in creative non-fiction; Jesse Hicks explores themes of redemption in memoir writing; James Withers questions his own judgment following personal communication with LeRoy; Jodie Janella Horn critiques Oprah’s Frey-slaying; and recovering addict Katharine Jose looks at rehab-lit and how Frey’s wrongheaded notions of uniqueness contributed to his undoing.
Friday, February 3 2006
With embellishments, Frey's tale is not particularly exceptional, just the story of a young guy with a really, really reckless streak. Without embellishments, it is a run-of-the-mill drunkalogue, as they say in the biz (the biz, in this case, being addiction treatment facilities). The amazing thing is that Frey convinced a nation that he is totally unique.
I can't help but feel these latest controversies about distortion, lies and fakery have less to do with their progenitors than the larger climate of distortion, fakery and hype that fires their brightness and dominates what passes for a culture.
Maybe that is how the LeRoy machine will make it though this. Silence and the support of hardy friends who will forgive all and talk a lot of noise about 'higher truths'.
Manipulation all the way down the line, before coming to rest in front of the people wanting to be manipulated.
Oprah compounded our schadenfreude by taking Frey onto her stage and essentially beating him with a yardstick while Frey's dunce cap bounced up and down to the rhythm of her vengeful strikes.