Pages

Sunday, January 29, 2006

OPRAH'S SORRY; BOOK SALES SOAR

Eric Deggans, a columnist for the St. Petersburg Times, has had an uncanny knack of predicting what the next developments will be in the James Frey/Oprah Winfrey incident. You can read his columns at http://www.sptimes.com/columns/deggans.shtml.

Today, his column looks at Oprah's apology for defending Frey. It's at http://www.sptimes.com/2006/01/29/Worldandnation/Need_to_say__I_m_sorr.shtml.
In it, he cites me:

"Jeffrey Seglin, a professor at Emerson College who also writes a column on ethics for the New York Times Syndicate, noted that Winfrey had little to lose by admitting her mistake. Other celebrities in hot water, such as Clinton and Enron founder Kenneth Lay, faced everything from impeachment to prison time.

"'Oprah had everything to gain because it's in keeping with her image as someone in touch with her feelings who can show she's human,' he said. 'She was able to gather together all the people involved and say I was wrong and here's the guy who made me wrong. So, of course, one of the other lessons, is that you don't (mess) with Oprah.'"

He also continues the discussion on his blog at http://www.sptimes.com/blogs/media/, where he features "Other Voices Talking About Frey and Oprah." There, I say: "This guy Frey is very smart and (the show) oddly puts him in the position of being a victim, again. Basically, it was Oprah and...everybody else just piling on. And he just sat there and took it as smartly as you can do it. And meanwhile, his books keep selling...But, on a positive note, 20 years ago, nobody probably would have called his book into question. So one of the questions left is: Are the lies worse than ever before, or are we just catching people more now?''

Meanwhile, Frey's books continue to sell very, very well.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

We always seem so eager to read about some down and out person, and Oprah bathes in everyones sorrow. Sometimes I think people deliberately tell her these sob stories so they can gain her attention, and she falls for it. All of us can come up with some sad moments in our lives to write about, if we select to tell the entire world. I know I could write a few books! I have no intentions of purchasing the book 'A Million Little Pieces'. I am still trying to figure out what was so intriquing about this read, because based on what I've heard its just a Nut stretching the truth. Oprah helped a liar become rich!

Brandon said...

Well, Oprah's endorsement and the stunning cover design (seriously, one of the best I've seen in years and you can't tell me that doesn't drive book sales) had this book flying off the shelves before this controversey ever started.

While I didn't follow this story closely, I am still a bit confused by the entire brouhaha. Perhaps I'm alone in the assumption that most of the memoirs out there all condense events, fabricate details, or generally heighten drama to serve the story. But let's face it, real life is rarely as interesting as the bestselling memoirs of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs. It's "creative nonfiction," and I never thought Frey's book was anything more.

Watch "Capote" and read "In Cold Blood." Not that either are the end all for sources on the birth of creative nonfiction, but there are a number of interesting disparities.