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Doubleday Should Stop Selling A Million Little Pieces

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When bestselling Native American memoirist Nasdijj was recently discovered to be a white, middle-class gay erotica writer named Timothy Barrus, the only red faces to be found belonged to the book’s embarrassed publisher. However, rather than try to profit from the controversy, Ballantine has done the right thing and announced it would not ship any more copies of the disputed books.

It’s time Doubleday did the same with James Frey.

The question is not whether A Million Little Pieces should be considered fiction or non-fiction. It’s not a question of “truthiness,” or merely an interesting case of literary license, to be debated and discussed (and reprinted and reprinted).

It’s fraud.

Enough of this pathetic charade. Enough already with the “mostly true” nonsense. A Million LIttle Pieces is a top-to-bottom scam, pulled off with great skill not only by the author and his agent, but aided and abetted by Nan A. Talese and Doubleday. If I had any doubts about just how deeply complicit the publisher was in perpetrating this fraud (and I did), they vanished when Talese went on Oprah and tried claiming a significant difference between “memoir” and “autobiography,” completely glossing over the fact that her company peddled this bad fiction as a true story.

When Talese claimed that there were no questions about the book, and implied that such questions would have been improper, I did not get the feeling that she was simply sticking up for her author and company: I got the feeling she was lying, plain and simple, right into Oprah’s face and the cameras. And if I feel she was lying, then by the low standards that Talese and Frey have set for themselves, isn’t that feeling in fact the truth?

Stop the insanity, Doubleday. Stop the fraud. Stop the presses on A Million Little Pieces.

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  • Scott Butki

    Good piece. Well argued.

  • Tim

    Thanks Scott.

  • Matt

    Unbelievable. Who the fuck cares? The people buying it now are buying it because of the controversy, and you think they should be prevented from reading it because its a fraud? Find some other cause to champion.

  • Tim

    Hi Matt,

    I’m not advocating “preventing” people from reading it, but I think a publisher (and author) reaping huge rewards for their fraud is sick beyond belief. Books are my life, livelihood, and passion; there’s no better cause for me to champion.

  • Bryan McKay

    Why not just stick a “fiction” label on it and keep selling the book as is? It’s certainly not hurting anyone to read it.

  • Tim

    Hi Bryan,

    Thanks for your comment. Two reasons why I don’t think the fiction label is enough, nor the author note, publisher note, etc.:

    1. I think the publisher was in on it–I may be wrong but I think at least a few of the key people at Talese/Doubleday/Anchor/Random House/et al, knew exactly what they were doing when they sold this lie to the public. Even Frey’s editor is now changing his story; he initially insisted to the NY Times that he fact-checked everything in the book, now he claims he was duped. Who’s lying here?

    2. In the long run, I think this is going to hurt Doubleday’s reputation much more than the extra sales will help them. Voluntarily stopping production would send a message that they’re serious about product integrity, and not just a bunch of crooked shills. From a business standpoint I think it would work to their advantage in the long run. I could be wrong.

    Society is being torn apart by this massive culture of narcissism we live in, from the people running the country down to crooked cynics in the publishing world. Doubleday’s mishandling of this is the worst crisis PR blunder in the publishing world that I can remember.

    Sorry for the long answer.

  • Brian with an i

    I agree, if only because the book jacket probably states that it is a true story, or maybe even puts it in sexier terms like, “Witness the trials…” or somesuch. Obviously, the publisher did not vet the story, which would have been ridiculosly easy with facts like his whopper jail time lie.

    Relabel or pull the book.

  • Scott Butki

    After thinking about it, I think a relabelling would be better than stopping sales. I’d prefer people to be able to get the book and judge for themselves.

  • Tim

    After thinking about it, I think a relabelling would be better than topping sales

    No backsies!


    I guess it’ll have to be settled in court, which bothers me as much or more than the fraud itself. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • Scott Butki

    I’m not so sure this will make it to court.

  • Aaron Kite

    Boo hoo. Next you’ll be telling me that Hunter S. Thompson’s blow-by-blow accounts at the Kentucky Derby weren’t entirely accurate either.

    People need to lighten up. I don’t want to live in a society where my Artistic License might get suspended. I’m thinking of buying this book just because people are shocked and disappointed. Serves them right.

  • Scott Butki

    Why does it serve them right?

  • jack

    fuck frey,give me my money back.

  • Scott Butki

    Ok, that’s the most frank, concise argument I’ve heard in weeks.

  • Scott Butki

    Guess this didn’t happen, huh?

  • Eric Olsen