Literary Fingerpointing, round two: The Smoking Gun debunks James Frey

Million Little Pieces.jpg
Big day for unmasking literary frauds! Yesterday The Smoking Gun posted the results of their in-depth six-week investigation into the veracity of the claims made by author James Frey in his blockbuster debut, “A Million Little Pieces.” GalleyCat’s Sarah Weinman says that TSG meticulously debunked almost all the claims Frey made in the memoir. Says Sarah: “What one’s left with is the hollow ring of Frey’s motivation for his next book, a proper novel: ‘I’m looking forward to showing people that I can write fiction.'” Ouch.

Weinman cites the backstory (rejection by 17 publishers; retooling of the fictionalized version into a memoir). A process, to be sure, and cracks aplenty through which to slip. Still, she wonders, “doesn’t anyone properly fact-check these things?”

Fishbowl has the answer: Nope. Remember Seth Mnookin and the Hard News correx? He did that himself – and it was an anomaly.
Remember Nora Krug‘s NYTBR essay, “The Corrections,” on all the little (and sometimes not-so-little) errors that are sprinkled through your favorite book. I re-quote Simon & Schuster executive VP and publisher David Rosenthal here, who said that publishers typically “rely on the warranties of the author.” And recall that most publishing houses don’t have fact-checking departments. Which means, I suppose, that there are a million ways to get things wrong.

mbToolbox editor Claire Zulkey has a few thoughts on both Frey and Leroy today that speak, however, to what she knows to be true: both Frey and Leroy were lovely and accommodating interviews.

A Million Little Lies [TSG]

Related:
Guess James Frey’s memory was faultier than imagined [GC]
A bookshelf of Alessandra Stanleys [FBNY]