The dramatic 2006 showdown between Oprah Winfrey and controversial writer James Frey on her talk show is probably etched into some of our brains, but Frey’s never seen it.
Still, the author of the fictionalized memoir “A Million Little Pieces” says he can vividly recall the experience before, during and after that episode, when Winfrey publicly took him to task for being misleading about some of the events in the book.
That episode "is sort of a personal car crash for me,” he told Winfrey on her show Monday. “I just don’t want to watch it. It definitely wasn’t my finest day, and it wasn’t a day I was proud of whatsoever.”
That’s not to say, however, that Frey thinks Winfrey should’ve eased up a bit.
Although he refers to the incident as a public stoning – and has a painting to reflect as much – and feels like he was “steamrolled” by Winfrey, he doesn’t think he was a victim.
“I knew that what happened was my fault, I created that mess, I created that situation and if I had to come bear the responsibility of what I’d done," he said. "Whatever happened on that show happened because of me...I can’t believe I did that and I lived through it."
Frey said that he did originally shop his book around as a novel, but noted that he didn’t think about genre while he was writing it.
“When I sat down to write the book, I didn’t think of it as a memoir or a novel, even. I thought of it as, in some ways, a statement of defiance. I wrote the book without any respect for grammar or punctuation or how books are laid out on pages. I wrote the book without any respect for what is fact or fiction, or what category it should be placed in,” he told Winfrey. “I wrote it in defiance of those things, thinking it was something that existed in a place beyond them. I come at a lot of what I do from the art world; I’m more influenced by artists than writers. Let’s say you look at a cubist self-portrait by Picasso…it doesn’t actually look anything like Picasso, or if it does, it does in ways that might only make sense to him.”
But when it came time to publish the work, no one was interested in it as a novel. “At a certain point I had the opportunity to publish it as a memoir,” Frey says, and “there came a day when the decision was made. There came a lot of days where it was, ‘It’s time for you to go promote it,’ and it was [promoted as] a memoir.”
If he could do it again, he would be “very clear when that book came out what it was. I would’ve been very clear about what I was trying to do when I wrote it,” he told Winfrey. “When I wrote the book I was trying to create a work of literature or a work of art,” he explained.
Frey doesn’t recall being told by producers for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” what was really about to go down when he was brought on the program in 2006 – “I was told that it was going to be about a flexible definition of truth,” he says, and that "I would have the chance to tell my side of it" without other guests like Frank Rich being involved.
So, he told Winfrey on Monday, he felt “ambushed.”
“Absolutely, I felt like I got ambushed,” Frey said. But he maintains that “even if I’d known what I was walking into, I still would’ve walked into it. In a lot of ways it didn’t matter what happened on that show because in some ways I deserved it. It came time to pay for it, and I paid for it.”
“We can swing back to what a memoir is or isn’t, what rules there are or aren’t, what advice I got or didn’t get,” he told Winfrey, “but at the end of this the responsibility all has to come back to me.”
The second part of Winfrey's interview with James Frey airs tomorrow.
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Theodora & Callum get inside the head of American writer, James Frey to learn about his life and likes: http://www.theodoraandcallum.com/blog/cat/creative-factory/post/my-faves-james-frey/
i have never liked the idea of oprah or anybody else telling people what they should read. i did not watch her and won't miss her. people, she was a talk show host, nothing more and nothing less.
Yes.........thank you doug. Well said well put and the truth.
Oprahs a slob!
Theyre building another school that abuses kids in another country too! Woo hooo! Losers
Shes in space w/ tom cruise. They have a show on OWN. Im gona pull a Kanye West: "oprah does not care about white people".
Shes in space w/ tom cruise. They have a show on OWN. Im gona pull a Kanye West: "oprah does not care about white people". Ha haaa
This is going to be Oprah's biggest problem!
Yeah. Oprah is fat. Leave her alone.
I thought Frey was the A hole in this one, quit hating on Oprah okay .
I wish we could get Wall Street speculators, financial executives and oil company leaders on Oprah's show so she can give them the tongue lashing they deserve.
One man's shart is another man's treashure... .
I THOUGHT HEAD DIVA IN CHARGE WAS ON THIS BLOG!
My shart came out looking like oprah.
I think he shouldve been upfront about the marketing process of the book in the 1st place. Wouldve saved alot of people alot of grief. Do you think Oprah wouldve promoted the book in the same way had she known? I highly doubt it. I am an avid reader and this book is good. But I dont think it wouldve went this far or been this popular w/o Oprahs Book Club. Well he did come clean about what he did. But it will always cast doubt on any future books he may write. People will always remember the chaos he made.
I made a James Frey... .
Wasn't that the book that was supposed to be true, Oprah helped push the book, & then found out later a lot of it was all made up? Not for sure, seems like I heard that somewhere.
That is correct. He couldn't get a deal having it labeled as a novel so he labeled it as a memoir (true story) instead. The irony is that the book did inspire and move alot of people, hence, it's popularity and then being further boosted by Oprah's so-called book club. He did write a fantastic and moving book. I guess the question is, if you knew what he wrote wasn't true then would you have still felt impacted by what you were reading? In any case, even after the debaucle with Oprah and the book revealed as a fake memoir it then it still sold based on infamy afterwards.
i just ate & i need to mak a james frey in the toilet!!!
I am unclear of what the book Mr Frey wrote. I need to be informed. Maybe I would understand what is wrong. Please excuse my lack of knowledge.
No David, YOU'RE a towel.
Yes. I quite agree with you Eric and Javier. Towelie is a most magnificent role model and The Chiller Network is quite wonderful. You two gentlemen have most good judgement. Happy Evening from Quebec.
SO DOES THE CHILLER CHANNEL ! TRY IT ! YOU WILL BE IN HEAVEN !
Hi Superhiro. Do you think he really might be Towelie ? Maybe if he isnt but is a towel he might know our hero ! TOWELIE RULES !
this is too late. James Frey wanted his 15 minutes of fame and didn't care what he had to do to get there. Now that he's there and has book deals like mad, he can apologize all he wants but it will never make up for what he did to get to where he is today.
IF he is secretly TOWELIE ! JUST WOW ! TOWELIE RULES ! Remember, dont forget to bring a towel !
I heard this guy is actually a towel.
Hey, wanna get high.
It is Oprahs fault. She is big and giant and accidentally sat on him before the show. This squished him so bad he became addlebrained.
Oprah new problem is going to be this!
I think he is a WONDERFUL writer! Who CARES if A Million Little Pieces was fiction or Non fiction??????? WHO CARES????????????? Movies are made all the time about real events....and embellished and added to and we all accept it.......we have ALL seen the big screen " BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS"... sooo........WHO CARES????? Guess his ONLY mistake was that he did not use that phrase! Shame on Oprah. She was judgemental and condascending......hang in there James!
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