Guys I have a problem. A couple of days ago I checked out a book – I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.
The day after I checked it out I found out that the book was written by some poor guy who was a part of James Frey’s “YA Fiction Factory” or whatever everyone is calling it now. I found out on Twitter but didn’t really understand what was going on at first. I knew the name James Frey because I remember Oprah yelled at him a few years ago about the fact that he lied in one of his books, A Million Little Pieces. I never really paid attention to what was going on back then so I got curious and started to look some things up for myself.
At first, I didn’t really understand what the big deal was. So what? The man changed pieces of his life story for a book. Big deal. But then I found out that it was supposed to be this hugely inspirational autobiography and people felt like it had changed their lives, yada yada yada. Okay then. So now I understand why people might feel pretty betrayed by his lies. Next I read several articles about his fiction factory. And I will tell you, I am pretty disgusted. Maureen Johnson explains it all incredibly well right here. I encourage you to go read what she has to say. What it all really boils down to is that James Frey is screwing over a lot of writers.
On one hand, I feel like these writers who signed that contract deserve whatever they get. But on the other hand…. James Frey is just SUCH a villain! And I think he enjoys being perceived that way. In everything I’ve ever read about him interview-wise, he just comes off as this smarmy, horrible, egotistical man who thinks he’s better than everyone else. And just thinking about reading anything he’s written makes me feel icky.
Which brings me to my dilemma. I really wanted to read I Am Number Four. I really wanted to see the movie too. But now, knowing what I know… I don’t think I can do either and still feel good about myself. I’ll know who was behind the story. James Frey. And I really don’t want any of my money to support him. But then I start thinking that it’s not actually Frey who wrote the book, but Jobie Hughes. So I SHOULD read it because I’d be supporting the poor soul who got screwed over. And there’s the undeniable fact that I WANT to read the book.
So I bring the question to you all. What would you do? Would you say a story is a story and read it anyways? Or would you say, screw James Frey and his evilness? I can’t see a winning side to this argument. I lose either way. I probably will end up not reading the book because of how I said I’d feel dirty. But maybe some of your comments will change my mind. So what do you all think of this whole mess?