James Frey, the writer/liar whose made-up memoir A Million Little Pieces inspired Oprah Winfrey to give him a public spanking in 2006, is back in the hot seat.
I caught a piece of the first installment of his two-day (!) appearance during this next-to-the last week of Oprah’s long goodbye, which threatens to rival the “farewell” tour of The Judds.
Like that singing sister act, Frey, too, refuses to go away.
He still cranks out books, but at least some of them are properly labeled as fiction -- unlike Pieces, in which the author portrayed himself as a warts-and-all truthteller who vanquished addiction all by his bad-boy self.
I remember being stunned by that book, particularly the scene of the author undergoing a Marathon Man dental procedure without benefit of anesthesia. No wonder all Frey had to do at rehab was play cards with other tough guys while laughing at their fellow patients, those mere mortals struggling to get well. That recovery stuff -- the hard work, the sacrifice, the willingness -- was way too silly/sissy for our he-man superhero.
People familiar with addiction know that honesty is the oxygen of recovery, and that any triumphs over this disease are collective, not individual. Making amends (not just in words, but in deeds) is a huge part of the process as well.
Watching Oprah on Monday, I was reminded that Ms. Winfrey truly is an extraordinary figure in our popular culture. Yes, girlfriend is grandiose, but she’s also for real. And she really deserves respect for her willingness to revisit her own misjudgments, as well as her anger and its aftermath.
She is making amends, in a way – as only our one-and-only Oprah can do.
As for Frey?
I don’t believe a word.