Tuesday, January 17, 2006

shame on me

for contributing an ounce of publicity (yeah, it's probably about an ounce) to the overripe, shopworn story of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces (currently number two on Amazon's Best Seller list behind today's announced Oprah selection, Elie Wiesel's Night), but shame on Oprah for covering her own ass in continuing to sponsor this guy.

but I wanted to make mention of Michiko Kakutani's essay, "Bending the Truth in a Million Little Ways" in today's New York Times (an excerpt: "It is a case about how much value contemporary culture places on the very idea of truth. Indeed, Mr. Frey's contention that having 5 percent or so of his book in dispute was "comfortably within the realm of what's appropriate for a memoir" and the troubling insistence of his publishers and his cheerleader Oprah Winfrey that it really didn't matter if he'd taken liberties with the facts of his story underscore the waning importance people these days attach to objectivity and veracity.").

if it's made up it's fiction. period.
and if this instance only revealed trouble within the publishing industry (very small potatoes, let me assure you, in the grand scheme of things), the matter likely would've faded from memory already. but the problem is much larger, as Kakutani points out.

we expect this sort of obfuscation from post-Watergate politicians unfortunately, maybe television executives, used car salesmen and other victims of stereotype, but when the "gentlemanly" business of publishing (thought to be more avocation than vocation) appears half rotten to the core, where are we to place our trust?

personally I think Nan Talese should be locked in a room and forced to watch her performance on "Larry King" over and over again until she admits she's wrong.

lots more CDs in today: The Detroit Cobras' Baby, Shawn Camp's Fireball, Loose Fur's Born Again in the USA, The Grey's Asleep at the Wheel and Tortoise and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's The Brave and the Bold.
thank you, collective publicists.

last book read: Daniel Wolff's 4th of July, Asbury Park: A History of the Promised Land

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