Wednesday, September 20, 2006

James Frey's A Million Little Pieces

Title: A Million Little Pieces
Author: James Frey
Publisher: Anchor
ISBN 1-4000-3108-7

I bought this book from an Amazon reseller, at it has the orange and red "Oprah's Book Club" sticker on it. It looks like something out of James Joyce, without paragraph indentation. It's pretty avant garde and existential and all that. And it depicts chemical dependency (to use a mild word) in graphic terms. It became a bestseller.

We all heard the story that Frey fabricated some of this, kind of creating himself as an inverted fabulist. This led to litigation, "unpublication," a consumer recall and offer or refund as a publisher's settlement. Here are the details according to CNN.

What's interesting here is not just the idea that the publication purports to be a history and it did not happen. If the book is fiction, it is a form of self-defamation or self-libel. That is, if someone else wrote this as fiction and made Frey an indentifuable character and the story was false, the author could be liable for libel. In some cases, as I have noted in other blogs, self-defamation can raise serious legal issues of their own.

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