On the Smokinggun.com website today, I heard about this. Another writer unravelled.
“In an October 26 show entitled “The Man Who Kept Oprah Awake At Night,” Winfrey hailed author James Frey’s graphic and coarse book “A Million Little Pieces” as “like nothing you’ve ever read before. Everybody at Harpo is reading it. When we were staying up late at night reading it, we’d come in the next morning saying, ‘What page are you on?’”
In emotional filmed testimonials, employees of Winfrey’s Harpo Productions lauded the book as revelatory, with some choking back tears. When the camera then returned to a damp-eyed Winfrey, she said, “I’m crying ’cause these are all my Harpo family so, and we all loved the book so much.”
But a six-week investigation by The Smoking Gun reveals that there may be a lot less to love about Frey’s runaway hit, which has sold more than 3.5 million copies and, thanks to Winfrey, has sat atop The New York Times nonfiction paperback best seller list for the past 15 weeks.
When recalling criminal activities, looming prison sentences, and jailhouse rituals, Frey writes with a swaggering machismo and bravado that absolutely crackles. Which is truly impressive considering that, as TSG discovered, he made much of it up. The closest Frey has ever come to a jail cell was the few unshackled hours he once spent in a small Ohio police headquarters waiting for a buddy to post $733 cash bond.
Next to the latest Harry Potter title, Nielsen BookScan reported Friday, Frey’s book sold more copies in the U.S. in 2005–1.77 million–than any other title, with the majority of that total coming after Winfrey’s selection.
Police reports, court records, interviews with law enforcement personnel, and other sources have put the lie to many key sections of Frey’s book. The 36-year-old author, these documents and interviews show, wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw “wanted in three states.”