Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.

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Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Frey Pays. Part One.

New York Times on James Frey

"Readers in several states, including New York, California and Illinois, filed lawsuits saying that Mr. Frey and the publisher had defrauded them by selling the book as a memoir rather than as a work of fiction."

Now that is amazing. Yes, Frey lied. The Bible warns us against bearing false witness. He did, and he's paying the price in a ruined career and public humiliation.

But lawsuits? Over a book? If the pages in question were an exercise book leaving many with lasting physical injuries, I could understand. If a person were subjected to libel, sure. But a guy who lied about being a druggie? People, he ain't Emile Zola. He wasn't before the truth willed out. The book was never going to win the National Book Award or the Pulitzer or anything else. Frey was--is--one more lousy memiorist amidst zillions in our brave new confessional world.

If we as readers sue Frey, Opal Mehta, another very bad girl, isn't far behind. The point is not to allow liars and plagiarists to run amok, but to question our motivations as readers and book buyers. We have all had the experience of buying a book that fell far short of our expectations. Instead of suing the author, we simply stopped reading. And when the author came out with a new work, we passed over it.

Anne Rice came highly recommended to me. I liked horror stories, particularly about vampires, and I always wanted to see New Orleans (sadly, I have lost that opportunity.). Everyone told me to read Anne Rice. I went out and bought the Lestat books, in those days only a triology. They were to be my college winter break reading.

I couldn't get through the first fifty pages. The writing was congested, dull, wordy. (I later learned she does not permit line-editing of her work.) Disappointed, I tried, but never got much past Lestat's opening monologue. I went to the bookstore and paged through a few of her other works. Nothing doing. When the movie came out, I watched Anne's little opening speech about how Tom Cruise was really okay in the role after all, and thought her a pretentious fool.

Never once did I think to sue her. Instead I mostly ignored her. Then the Blood Canticle debacle erupted. I read her screed and decided to completely ignore her.

To those of you unhappy enough with books to consider suing their creators, don't sink to their level. It doesn't befit your status as a honest citizen with good taste. Yes, twenty-five dollars is a lot spend on a crappy book, but in the grand scheme of things, the time and effort lost to lawyers is worth immeasurably more than a refund. After all, you can't get time wasted returned.

One can argue the moral point scored via the winning lawsuit is important (See Frey Pays, Part II).

Move on. Refresh your mind with something enduring. Re-read a little Hemingway. Spend a few minutes with Emily Dickinson. Or pull your favorite author down from the shelf and remember all over again why you love to read.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous IFuckedUrMom said...

ANNE RICE RULEZ UR SORRY ASS, BITCH!!
UR JUST NOT SMART ENOUGH, OR HAVE A LARGE ENOUGH BRAIN CAPACITY TO ENJOY LESTAT AND HIS ADVENTURES.
JUST CAUSE THAT SORRY FUCK BOWL YOU CALL A HEAD CAN'T COMPREHEND WHAT SHE'S WRITING ABOUT DOESN'T MEAN THAT ANNE'S NOT A GREAT WRITER.

October 25, 2006 2:30 AM  

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