Author James Frey gives his first interview to Vanity Fair since Oprah tore him a new one on her show after The Smoking Gun dug up the “truth” of his memoir A Million Little Pieces. So yeah, the new issue of Vanity Fair has more going for it that semi-nude Miley Cyrus photos.
Of course he is out to promote his new book, but the mere fact that he picked himself up yet again, well I guess his resiliency is worth applauding.
This isn?t to say that Frey isn?t tough. He was tough enough to kick a five-year drug-and-alcohol addiction. He proved his resilience again by surviving the past two years, after his bad-boy aspirations became too real and bit him on the ass. Oprah, the very arbiter of correct human behavior, destroyed him in public, and the walls came crumbling down around him.
The book world dumped him. Friends deserted him. He was stalked by the tabloids as if he were a Britney Spears?size train wreck. Readers told him they hoped he?d burn in hell, get hit by a bus, get ?ass cancer.?
?I was a pariah,? he says today. ?I was under no illusion that I was anything but that.? Each morning brought a crash of emotions?rage, bewilderment, panic, and shame?and Frey came close to drinking again. Instead, he did something shocking. He wrote another book?and not a lame apologia/self-justification such as The Fabulist, by Stephen Glass, or Burning Down My Masters? House, by Jayson Blair.
Bright Shiny Morning is a sprawling, ambitious novel about Los Angeles, written with all the broad-stroke energy that was so irresistible to readers in A Million Little Pieces. By turns satirical, tense, and surprisingly touching, it is a portrait of a city onto which so many millions have projected so many dreams. Frey tells his story using four main narratives: a young, midwestern couple who have come to escape the cruelty and small-mindedness of their families; a Mexican-American housekeeper struggling to find self-worth; a Venice boardwalk drunk attempting to do something heroic; a vain, closeted movie star willing to do anything to get the man he loves. Interwoven with these compelling, cinematic tales is the story of just about everyone else. Compulsively, obsessively, Frey churns out sketch after sketch of L.A.?s every historical moment, every demographic, every institution, every neighborhood, from Skid Row to the Fashion District. He gives us gang members, porn-industry types, Asian sex slaves, artists, art collectors, gossip bloggers. He gives us lists of real L.A. facts and ?facts? that are just made-up nonsense. At times, the randomness feels distracting?you wish Frey could rein himself in and return to the central narratives. But when the book works, it achieves the very essence of Los Angeles?s fractured, unpredictable, loopy nature. The stakes couldn?t be higher for him. It will test to what extent the public is willing to read James Frey the writer, and not, as he puts it, ?James Frey the asshole.?
Strangely enough it was author Norman Mailer who helped him get back. Fascinating article all around.