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Henry Chinaski said:
Honestly, memoirs annoy me. But now I know it's fiction I'm kind of interested.
I've read both of his books now--the latest being the spin-off My Friend Leonard. From the start I figured it had to be somewhat fictionalized. He writes in a very affected (but effective IMO) way that isn't your typical memoir style of writing. Some of the people he meets and the situations he says happened stretch the bounds of probability pretty far. Stuff like saving his girlfriend from a crackhouse while still in rehab, his befriending a gangster who makes him his "son", his befriending a federal judge who just might have helped him escape a long prison term--in any event I enjoyed the story and it COULD have happened, but I doubted that it actually did happen to him. The followup book stretches it even further--goes into his relationship with the gangster who assumes kind of a omniscient protector and benefactor status leading to his jumping into becoming a Hollywood producer and writer shortly after moving to LA. And, of course, every woman he meets is beautiful and interested in him.
 

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A million little cliches

Bocephus Jones II said:
I've read both of his books now--the latest being the spin-off My Friend Leonard. From the start I figured it had to be somewhat fictionalized. He writes in a very affected (but effective IMO) way that isn't your typical memoir style of writing. Some of the people he meets and the situations he says happened stretch the bounds of probability pretty far. Stuff like saving his girlfriend from a crackhouse while still in rehab, his befriending a gangster who makes him his "son", his befriending a federal judge who just might have helped him escape a long prison term--in any event I enjoyed the story and it COULD have happened, but I doubted that it actually did happen to him. The followup book stretches it even further--goes into his relationship with the gangster who assumes kind of a omniscient protector and benefactor status leading to his jumping into becoming a Hollywood producer and writer shortly after moving to LA. And, of course, every woman he meets is beautiful and interested in him.

This article in Slate today was pretty interesting.
http://www.slate.com/id/2134203/nav/tap1/


I dunno, anything that Oprah thinks is genius I reckon will be pretty likely to be an overly dramatic purple turd. ya know?
 

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Sintesi said:
This article in Slate today was pretty interesting.
http://www.slate.com/id/2134203/nav/tap1/


I dunno, anything that Oprah thinks is genius I reckon will be pretty likely to be an overly dramatic purple turd. ya know?
I almost didn't buy the first book because it had an Oprah sticker on it, but I got it really cheap at Costco so I gave it a chance--yeah...that article is a good one and pretty accurate--I just wanted him to drop the tough guy act after a while and there were cliches aplenty, but still I enjoyed reading it.

// I think it would have been a really boring book if he had simply submitted to Hazelden's 12 step philosophy and got better and then left--no story there. Because he was a rebel and it supposedly worked for him he has something to say. If it's all BS though then that is another matter, but if someone can kick that level of drug addiction without a 12 step program (another addiction IMO) then they have something to say to addicts.
 

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Bocephus Jones II said:
I almost didn't buy the first book because it had an Oprah sticker on it, but I got it really cheap at Costco so I gave it a chance--yeah...that article is a good one and pretty accurate--I just wanted him to drop the tough guy act after a while and there were cliches aplenty, but still I enjoyed reading it.

// I think it would have been a really boring book if he had simply submitted to Hazelden's 12 step philosophy and got better and then left--no story there. Because he was a rebel and it supposedly worked for him he has something to say. If it's all BS though then that is another matter, but if someone can kick that level of drug addiction without a 12 step program (another addiction IMO) then they have something to say to addicts.

Does he really advocate his method as a solution? This paragraph makes it seem like some simple minded sloganeering.

"It is sentiments like this that have made Frey into a folk hero and Pieces into one of Winfrey's most popular book-club selections ever. He even boiled down his philosophy into a pithy, two-word motto—"Hold on"—which his acolytes have made into T-shirts and had tattooed on their bodies. (It's catchier than the motivational abbreviation* Frey has tattooed on his own arm: FTBSITTTD, for "**** the bullshit, it's time to throw down.")"

That this appeals to Oprah's audience wouldn't surprise me at all considering the popularity of buddy Dr. Phil. "How's that workin' for ya?"

If this guy Frey is advocating his lifestory as a serious example to solve drug problems, then yeah he's complete d**k if you ask me. Read as entertainment that's another story but if he knows people are latching on to his home spun "philosophy" then he's morally obligated to let people know that he made it up.
 

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Sintesi said:
Does he really advocate his method as a solution? This paragraph makes it seem like some simple minded sloganeering.
He is sort of the antihero--the rebel in the book. He detests 12 step and quits drinking through "sheer force of will" and reading the Tao (his inspiration) knowing to choose alcohol or drugs will mean death. Pretty dramatic stuff. I took it as entertainment and it was one of the reasons I thought this has to be somewhat fiction, but as a story device I thought it worked. I can't see it working as a real solution to addiction for most people though. I'm no fan of 12 step programs, but for many they work well while many alternative programs do not. Also kinda hard to imagine such an addict (as he describes himself) ever feeling comfortable hanging out in bars and keeping beer and wine in his house ever again (as he does in the 2nd book. His reasoning is that alcohol is always available within a few minutes walk to a liquor store or bar so keeping it at his house is no more tempting than knowing it's there--to me that seemed a bit of a stretch as I can imagine the temptations that would result from watching your friends get drunk while you sip on your coke--stoically refusing anything harder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sintesi said:
This article in Slate today was pretty interesting.
http://www.slate.com/id/2134203/nav/tap1/


I dunno, anything that Oprah thinks is genius I reckon will be pretty likely to be an overly dramatic purple turd. ya know?
From Slate:

"If a novelist wrote a book run through with these kind of straight-from-Central-Casting chestnuts, he'd be politely told to try again … as Frey says he was, by 17 different publishers, before, Frey says, Doubleday's Nan Talese said she'd publish his novel if he recast it as a memoir."

Ha! So it was his agent's idea. The whole memoir publishing fad/book group thing makes me want to puke.
 

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Henry Chinaski said:
Ha! So it was his agent's idea. The whole memoir publishing fad/book group thing makes me want to puke.
He made a buttload of money and fooled Oprah whose endorsement is probably the surest way for a writer to make lots of money these days. Agent's idea was a good one--he just got caught. Maybe if he would have stuck to the truth a bit more he would have never been caught.

// is this situation in any way similar to Hunter Thompson's writings in Fear and Loathing? After all, wasn't that supposed to be non-fiction as well? Of course, Thompson might have actually been as nuts as he claimed to be. ;)
 

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Bocephus Jones II said:
He made a buttload of money and fooled Oprah whose endorsement is probably the surest way for a writer to make lots of money these days. Agent's idea was a good one--he just got caught. Maybe if he would have stuck to the truth a bit more he would have never been caught.

// is this situation in any way similar to Hunter Thompson's writings in Fear and Loathing? After all, wasn't that supposed to be non-fiction as well? Of course, Thompson might have actually been as nuts as he claimed to be. ;)
Thompson didn't go on the damn self-help circuit. This Frey guy is a total putz.
 

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Henry Chinaski said:
Thompson didn't go on the damn self-help circuit. This Frey guy is a total putz.
true...
 
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