Every writer lives in a fantasy world of some sort or another. Once in awhile we allow ourselves daydreams of grandeur, of being hailed in our lifetimes as the greatest American author. I don’t have that dream, honestly, because I’m not that kind of writer, but I do have the same nightmare as everyone else does:
Going on live television in front of millions of people (that’s terrifying enough), and having to listen to Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, Richard Cohen, and Roy Peter Clark from the Poynter Institute all talk about what a scourge and a pirate you are, and worst of all, endure repeated spankings from the queen of ethics, Oprah herself.
OH MY GOD, it was satisfying to watch James Frey get his ass whupped yesterday. It was fortifying to hear so many people talking about the power of the truth.
What was really skanky was how Frey never took responsibility for any of it. I’ve seen that defense in cheating boyfriends a hundred times. “Well, uh, I guess if you say I was sucking his cock, um, yeah, that was what happened to me”–oh shut the fuck up.
Oprah did push him to call himself a liar a couple of times, which was great. In the end it was almost just as satisfying to see this blowhard, this hardened criminal, sputter and cringe and sprinkle his trousers as proof of a con job. Wasn’t it terrific to see him trying to hide behind the skirts of addiction/alcoholism? Why the fuck would anyone believe that he’s an alcoholic in the first place? I’ve known plenty of people who exaggerate their stories for one reason or another to remain among the AA circle they’ve come to love. Who’s going to stop them?
If your bottom is a couple of drinks before noon, well, there’s no ruler by the door that says, “you must be this high to ride.”
But Nan Talese should have been holding a yardstick of some sort. Otherwise, who knows? Maybe some pretentious white girl who didn’t get a pony for Christmas might get a book deal.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed!