Many of you know that James Frey, the fellow who parlayed a fake memoir into fame and wealth, has a new book out. It's ranked at 33 on Amazon as of this morning, but I won’t be buying or reading it, even though Frey admits up front this time that it’s fiction. (Of course, once he gained fame under false pretenses he didn’t need to lie to sell another book.)
I won’t be buying this new one, or his older ones, or any that he might write in the future. And I’ll tell you why. It’s not because I know him to be a bad writer, although the sample of his new book that I found on Amazon was written, deliberately perhaps, in an illiterate style. (Here’s a sample sentence: “As he grew up he didn’t fit in with any of the other Cuban boys in his neighborhood they idolized boxers and baseball players he couldn’t have cared less”). It’s not that I feel any personal animosity against the fellow. No, the reason is because I have a limited book buying budget, and I’m just not going to put a penny in the pocket of someone who—-in my opinion—-has shown a lack of respect for readers and other writers across the board. This would be true even if his story was magnificent, which, from the sample, it certainly is not.
There are too many other talented writers with great stories who have labored long and honorably in the world of publishing only to receive pittances for their efforts, or even to be passed over time and time again for the celebrity author or the latest big thing (scandal). And there are plenty of already famous writers who have earned every accolade they’ve garnered. These are writers who have always told us the truth, who have never deliberately compromised their morals. Every nickel that I spend on books will go to such writers. Every penny.
Honor and integrity are not dead words, not outmoded concepts. I will support those who understand this.