Frey’s Lies: Are The Readers The Problem?

Does it really matter that James Frey wrote a book falsely claiming to have been a drug-addled bad boy in his youth? Perhaps not. “There is, however, a deeper issue worth considering buried in all this pop-cultural titillation: Why are people so easily victimized by this sort of emotional con man? For some years, book publishing, television and — more recently — a growing segment of the news media have been sinking deeper and deeper into a particularly fetid sinkhole carved by two social currents that now dominate our collective lives. One is narcissism, which has turned the confessional memoir into the dominant literary genre of our age. The other is the public’s prurient interest, which creates a readership for the literature of self-absorption and supports a metastasizing culture of celebrity.”