Amid the controversy about James Frey embellishing major details in his memoir – let alone JT Leroy being a different gender than that writer claimed to be – Frey has revealed a secret in the literary community.
That secret is that there is a gray area – or what I hereby dub the Frey Area – in every memoir. As Frey said on Larry King, according to the New York Times:
“I’ve acknowledged that I changed things,” Mr. Frey told Mr. King. But, he said, the events he changed totaled less than 5 percent of the book’s content, “within the realm of what’s appropriate for a memoir.”
Here are other changes in memoirs that most readers are unaware of, but are part of that 5 percent Frey Area:
Jarhead - The author didn’t actually go to Iraq but he did play violent video games and shave his head.
Angela’s Ashes – Author Frank McCourt isn’t actually Irish. He’s a black woman. But he read a book about Ireland once while at the dentist.
Personal Memoirs – Ulysses S. Grant didn’t write his own book – he farmed it our to Mark Twain.
Running With Scissors – The author, Augusten Burroughs, didn’t actually run with scissors since, as his mother noted, he could take an eye out. He instead walked with scissors. He did run with masking tape but that just did not have the same zing to it.
Assassination Vacation – Sarah Vowell is actually a direct descendent of John Wilkes Booth. She did not want to mention that before because it might skew opinions about her book.
Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris is actually French and very heterosexual – his entire persona is a lie.
Oh and my name is not Scott. It’s Samantha. And you know that saying, “Life is what it is?” I wrote that.
And I pick all of Oprah’s books for her because she actually hates reading, preferring instead to play Grand Theft Auto.
Really. If you don’t believe me and do not like this piece I am sure you can get a refund.