DOGGONE EVERYTHING (In Search of Something)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

James Frey/Oprah &

Hillary Frey at (1-27-06) had a great statement: "Here's what I say to Oprah: We don't need a ratings system for memoirs. We need to find meaning in books apart from their authors' oversize personalities, or bizarre travails. Oprah is right that the truth does matter. But if what she really wants to promote through her book club are incredible stories -- and Frey's, had it been true, was perhaps most incredible of all -- she should look back to where she used to find them: fiction."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Oprah and Larry King. It's not about James Frey

James Frey and his lying memoir are NOT NEWS. Oprah will go back to her show and some other topic in a few days, and James will have a more bashed up life. Oprah is a movie star, a brand, and most people (whether they admit it or not) know that she is not living a life even remotely close to the rest of us. That goes for Larry King as well. These are celebrity media people, folks, and they are the ones making money off of this scandal. Americans, and others, like dopes, are watching this tripe on TV, hour after hour, day after day. Why?

The two--Larry and Oprah--who are in business to keep their ratings high-- don't even have credible speakers on this latest topic. Why not get someone on either program who knows what he/she is talking about? Nan Talese on Oprah was the closest to 'literary' and 'real' as we have probably ever gotten during this entire debate.

Oprah is only embarrassed because Queens, those in power, do not like to be shown up. And she is an ACTRESS. What do actresses do? They pretend. Outrage. Tears. Crying over someone's expletive-driven memoir. You really don't know if the actress is feeling anything at all. IT'S ALL TO MAKE A GOOD SHOW. It's called a media stunt. When will the public ever learn? (This is not to take away from the fact that Oprah has done a lot for various causes, and helped women in many ways, and she also puts out a good magazine.) Now I sound like Jonathan Franzen, who said, "The some of Oprah's picks. She's picked some good books, but she's picked enough schmaltzy, one dimensional ones that I cringe, myself, even though I think she's really smart and she's really fighting the good fight. And she's an easy target." However, only part of this quote got quoted in papers, so he came out sounding like he was 'dissing' Oprah. It's sad in his case also that he couldn't state what he felt. He wasn't making a personal attack, jut stating an opinion. Of course, he ended up being 'uninvited' to be on Oprah's show.

Back to Frey. I am not absolving him, but he's not the first one to have fabricated a memoir. Therefore, I decree, it's all for the media to make a noise. It's too bad that all of this attention is paid to this book and, in general, to authors who aren't worth the ink on the page. There are so many other writers out there, who keep writing and have even published, but have never gotten on Oprah. They follow the straight line. It makes me wonder if I had made-up the stories in my serious non-fiction book, or made them even snazzier--maybe I would have gotten on Oprah! I can not imagine having no integrity and being on TV, but then, people without integrity are on TV every minute of the day. And people embellish their lives to sound more interesting in order to get on TV. Oprah succumbed to what Americans succumb to: sensationalism. Truthfully, had Frey NOT sensationalized (or lied), he probably would not have gotten the book published. Why? Because agents, publishing houses, Oprah and the American public expect sensation to the point of raw nastiness. That's sad. We need some simplicity, and to have teachers/ professors teach kids a wider vocabulary and a love for the English language, so they can grow, learn, and stretch when they read, and maybe not be taken in so easily by sensation and blarney. Read a memoir that is written by an author with true smarts and writing ability like Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation).

(Also, those two women who wrote memoirs who were on Larry King Live tonight must have had good publicists to get them on. Why were they on? Another thing the public doesn't know is that people who end up on the show might have paid to get on the show in some way (paid a publicist). Who WERE those authors who were on?

Artwork in Tate Modern

London is a smorgasbord of art, whether literary or visual.
"Agosta, the Pigeon-chested Man, and Rasha, the Black Dove" (1929) caught my eye in the Tate. It's the only piece that kept haunting me. What do you think?

A creepy piece of art by Christian Schad. Certainly, it makes us question freaks on display. The blurb read "earned their living as side show acts in Berlin funfairs through the display of their bodies. The work is an unsettling portrayal of the body, voyeurism, and social alienation."

Sleaze Run Amok -women and Howard Stern

Do women perpetuate the devaluation of their own gender? See my essay that is in reference to one of Maureen Dowd's columns.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

James Frey's Memoir - a publicity stunt?

What do you think of this controversy over James Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces? Do you think it was all planned from the beginning? For instance: Write the book, get on Oprah, get caught for not telling 'the truth,' create a media frenzy, get on Larry King Live, sell millions more books. Not a bad formula!

It certainly has made me consider what I am going to write about in my next book about Europe & the U.S. Does everything have to be 'true'? If a memoir is based on memory, which is not reliable, then how can a memoir be a lie? Isn't the emotional content, or the 'lesson' the main point? Yes and no. Readers expect that a memoir will be the truth, and when it is not - even in part - they feel as if a contract has been broken between them and the author in whom they believed. This gets back to: Perhaps, it's all just a publicity stunt? In the U.S., it seems, no one is immune to (or beneath) creating a sensation and capitalizing off of it. It's a shame, really, because this does not usually happen by 'artists' in other countries. There is still some integrity left in the Arts in, say, Europe.

Article about Frey's book- yet another memoir 'scandal.'