James Frey’s had a rough life. As a drug addict, he messed up his health, his friendships, and his criminal record before landing in an intensive rehab program. He wrote a fictionalized account of his story, attempted to sell the book, and couldn’t find any publishers (boy do I know that story). Then, he sold it as memoir, and suddenly, he’s on Oprah and selling millions of copies. Eventually, word gets out that it’s not a true story, and Oprah reams him out on the show. Who wants to be reamed out by Oprah? She white gloves everybody.
You might remember the headlines when this was going on a couple years ago. He’s been badmouthed and abused by every journalist and tv talkshow host around.
So when I said I wanted to read his book for one of my book groups, the ladies all looked at me like I was loco. “Wasn’t that fake?” They asked.
“Yes, along with every other novel we’ve read,” I thought.
In a world where truth gets thrown around a lot as something so perception based and individualized, it’s a marvel to me that people get so upset at this guy for not telling the “truth.”
When I read a memoir, I expect there to be fabrications, even if the writer swears up and down that it’s the “truth.” It’s not that I’m cynical, well, maybe a bit. I just happen to be #1 fallen human being along with the rest of humanity and #2 a writer. Those two things make me know that memories fade, names get changed to protect the innocent, writers get revenge in creative ways, and life gets spiced up a little to create a coherent narrative.
Maybe the same people who blindly think every non-fiction account they read is “truth” also think “reality” TV actually depicts reality. Don’t forget that during the recent screenwriter’s strike, reality shows suffered too. It seems odd that unscripted life would need script writers.
So why should Christians care about fake memoirs and “true” life accounts? I think they’re a great place to begin a discussion about the “Truth,” you know, the one with a capital “T.” The same people who claim there is no Truth are quick to denounce any apparent “untruths” in autobiography. Does that seem disingenuous to you?
But there is a Truth we can know, personally, intimately. His name is Jesus. His word is Truth. Test it. See what people for thousands of years have recognized. His story is THE True story.
Compared to him, the rest of us are all just liars.