James Frey wrong guy

I’m crossing my fingers that this James Frey guy gets what’s coming to him. James Frey has written a best-selling memoir called A MILLION LITTLE PIECES and thanks entirely to Oprah’s shrewd endorsement, has become an inspiration for a suburban nation in the grip of a drug addiction epidemic. The trouble is that Mr. Frey’s memoir has been largely invented. THE SMOKING GUN went looking for Frey’s police records, as is their thing, and found Vanilla Ice basically.

Oprah holds that her man Frey is still a beacon of light of a bad boy redeemed. I would maintain he is not.

Frey may have thought that he’d covered his bases. He killed off every co-conspirator in his book, he had his real police records, or lack thereof, expunged, and he’s claiming artistic license for whatever discrepancy may be left. Now in spite of what TSG has brought to light, Frey continues to defend his criminal street cred. This is not someone who has redeemed himself.

I don’t have any trouble with the fact that he has slandered real people. While Frey was in reality let off lightly for a drinking offense, he maintains those cops beat him mercilessly à la King, and later one of the cops contracted Frey’s cell mate to deliver a further beating. (Frey was never jailed.)

I don’t care if he’s traded on the memory of a small Michigan town’s high profile teenager-train-wreck tragedy, insinuating himself non-grata into several parents’ recollections of painful loss.

I don’t care that he’s taken a vacuous manuscript, rejected 18 times in its previous incarnation as a novel, and parleyed it into a small fortune and himself into a prominent role as recovery guru.

I don’t care that Jame Frey wasn’t the bad-ass he claimed to be, or thinks he remembers.

Except as it relates to Mr. Frey’s recovery from drug addiction.

The detail to which I attach a great deal of significance is Frey’s recovery, which may or may not be true. He says he did it without Alcoholics Anonymous. In fact he belittles them.

Plenty of addicts recover without the assistance of AA or NA, but the greater majority by far need the help of fellow addicts. And tragically, the chief hurdle to bringing addicts into recovery is every last addict’s misconception that they can do it themselves.

So here you have a Mr. Frey who wants to paint himself as the baddest dealer ever, as the most reprobate junkie ever, who hit bottom like no parent should ever hope to see their child hit bottom, and who then got clean, all by his own self, won Oprah’s book club lottery, the end.

If that’s true, congratulations to him. If it’s not true, what kind of hope is James Frey offering the millions of suffering parents and addicts? That they should count on such unlikely odds as winning the lottery?

NA is not for everyone, but it’s nothing to avoid in any case. Every day millions of Americans get together in ad hoc meetings to fight and claw their way out of addiction. Some need the comfort of believing in a “higher power,” some don’t. Whatever. There’s no administrative cost, there’s no hidden agenda, there’s no proselytizing. The meetings are just people who share a common problem, helping each other to overcome.

Middle America is being overtaken by the drug problems that have long plagued the urban poor. Oprah’s handlers may have been urging her to find a way to address the addiction epidemic and help her audience to navigate the dangerous waters. I hope she has the wisdom to admit she may have chosen the wrong guide.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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1 Response to James Frey wrong guy

  1. Avatar friendOfBill says:

    Frey is contemptuous of AA for the reason that it requires a belief in a Higher Power. He assumes, as do many, that a Higher Power must mean a Christian God. This is not the case, and misses the point.

    The idea of railing against the concept of a Higher Power than man is like FEMA saying there was no Katrina. The Higher Power can be anything or anyone, it just IS NOT YOU.

    Here’s a letter to Oprah, addressing her role of enabler to Frey’s dishonesty:

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