Saturday, January 28, 2006

Nonplussed No More

When I first heard about the now-notorious James Frey and his now-notorious lie, "A Million Little Pieces," I will admit I was nonplussed. So a memoirist lied, and a bunch of people bought his book as a result. Big deal. Literary hoaxes have a long and noble history, right? I mean, I guess people who bought his book as an alternative to the therapy they so desperately required might have legitimate grounds to be pissed off, but...

However, now that I've read the first two pages of the book, I understand the outrage. And it has nothing to do with alternatives to therapy, and everything to do with why I couldn't read past the first two pages.

I think people are righteously pissed off about Frey's book because they were fooled. Not misled; not lied to; not even bamboozled: they were fooled. Made fools of. Because if, on reading just the opening couple of paragraphs of "A Million Little Pieces," you had actually been made to believe that such a transparently fabricated story could ever actually possibly have occurred anywhere in this world... then you would naturally feel badly used, not to say humiliated, when you belatedly discovered the obvious truth.

I mean, the book opens as its narrator wakes up alone, covered with blood and snot, with a hole in his cheek, in the middle of a commercial airline flight, for God's sake, with no idea how he got there or where he's bound; and the flight attendant doesn't bat an eye when he questions her, or when he nearly passes out trying to exit the plane. Come on. That's absurd on its face. And it just gets worse... for the two pages I read. I can only imagine what's to come.

I vividly remember the feeling of outrage I experienced on the day I suddenly realized - Wait a minute - BEARS CAN'T TALK! and that the author of the Paddington books had been fooling me all along! It was awful: I felt humiliated and foolish. So I can sympathize.


At 5:46 PM, Blogger MT said...

Shut up! Duh, not every bear can speak, but obviously Paddington is trained, plus he's from England. Have you met any bears in England?! And I bet you criticize the media for irresponsible journalism!


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