James Frey Timeline

The Events Causing the Controversy Over James Frey’s Best Seller, A Million Little Pieces

Why are people calling James Frey’s book, A Million Little Lies?

When Oprah selected James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces for her book club in the fall of 2005, she thought she was doing a good thing. The book was promoted in the publisher’s release as a “brutally honest” true story, Frey’s memoir of his addiction and recovery. Throughout the on-air interview, Frey spoke about the book as if it were entirely true. Millions of Oprah fans bought and read the book, saying how much it had inspired them in dealing with their own life problems.

Early Hints of Trouble

After the book selection was announced but before the program had taped, a Hazeldon counselor told an Oprah producer that some things in the book were not right. Oprah called the publisher about this and was told that the publisher stood behind the book.

James Frey appeared on the Oprah show, and the Oprah edition of the paperback, released in September 2005, sold more than 2 million copies as a result.

The Story Breaks

The Smoking Gun posted the article that started the controversy, “The Man who Conned Oprah,” on Jan. 8, 2006. It claimed that important parts of the book were untrue.

Larry King and Oprah

Over-riding his own wishes, James Frey appeared on “The Larry King Live Show”, at Oprah’s request.

On the show, Frey indicated that his book was based on his own memories. Further, he seemed to indicate that there was some debate at the publishing house over whether to publish the book as fiction or nonfiction.

When publisher Nan Talese heard Frey say this, it caused her to “almost collapse,” according to an interview in The New York Observer article, “The Awful Untruth.” Talese went on to say, “When the manuscript of A Million Little Pieces was received by us at Doubleday, it was received as nonfiction, as a memoir. Throughout the whole process of publication, it had always been a memoir, and for the first year and a half it was on sale, it was always a memoir with no disputation. It was never once discussed as fiction by me or anyone in my office.”

At the end of the Larry King Live show, Oprah called in to support the book’s “emotional truth” as an inspiring tale of redemption.

Copyright 2006 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

What Happened Next: James Frey Consequences

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