Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Good publicity, bad publicity, it's all the same for James Frey.

So James Frey has sold his (what is it, third?) book to HarperCollins. I find him really interesting, mostly because he's an example of what even bad publicity can do.

I have not read A Million Little Pieces, his infamous not-memoir. But you can be sure that if originally James Frey was just another author (okay, one who happened to get a gig with Oprah, but still, an author), once the shit hit the fan, he was not just an author but a headline. And then soon after that I'd be standing on the subway platform or sitting on the train and see at least three people carrying his blue book with the creepy hand graphic on it (I think it's a little creepy). Because now everyone wants to know what the media's talking about. Where's the fraud? What part was fraud? What's real? Who is this guy?

And from then on, any book he comes out with is preceded with, "his new FICTION title"....

Something like his little stunt, in an ideal world, a world where we don't bow to consumers and where the power of free media is diminished (you know, socialism... just kidding), might have ended with him being blacklisted forever. But because we are who we are, and James Frey is a name we recognize and people bought that book even as bookstores were moving it from the "memoir" shelf to the "fiction" shelf (I don't know, did that really happen?) and airports were selling it and everyone wanted a piece of James Frey (okay, I'm hyping it up, but you know what I mean). My point is, James Frey has written two more books since, and major publishing houses buy them. Because people know who he is and he will sell. At least, that's what it seems like to me.

Sometimes I wonder if the saying is true - any publicity is good publicity.

And wouldn't it be funny if it were all an elaborate pubicity stunt?

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