James Frey sits down for his first interview since Oprah tore him a new one. I still don't think he gets it, but he makes for good copy and that's what this is all about. Anyway, when asked about his early claims that he wanted to be one of the greatest writers of this generation, he responded:
Before I started, I read a lot of the authors who had achieved what I wanted to achieve, tried to figure out what they had in common. The most obvious thing all of them had was when they were published, nobody had ever seen anything like what they were doing, in terms of how they did it and what they said. I mean like Baudelaire, Celine, Henry Miller, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Kerouac. You know, I'm an American male and I looked to that tradition for guidance, and I hope someday to be included among that group of American writers.
This comes just after he was asked about "squaring off" with Davids Eggers and Foster Wallace for supremacy on the American literary landscape, saying that he didn't find their writing relevant then adding:
I think writers and artists in general come in two forms: there are thinkers, and feelers. And I think those guys are thinkers, their work is about the intellect. The intellectual gamesmanship, it was all about irony and postmodernism and it was very clever. And none of those things were things I care about. I care about what I feel and how I feel it. So I actually set out to do absolutely the opposite. Strip everything away. Make it not about intellectualism at all, make it about emotional heart. It's like they were making conceptual art, and I'm making expressionistic art.
One thing we like to say around these parts, Mr Frey, is "If feeling is first..." I'll let you fill in the rest.
So ultimately Mr. Frey remains in denial, which shouldn't be surprising considering that a) he's a recovering alcoholic (allegedly) and b) he's a liar.
One last thing from Frey:
What's interesting is that On the Road was going to be published as non-fiction, and they altered it cos they were worried about legal ramifications. And because at the time fiction was much more popular than non-fiction. For me it was almost the opposite, y'know - non-fiction is much more popular now.
But Jack Kerouac never got millions thanks to Oprah nor did he go on the Oprah show acting like the great recovery god-savior. (He did the Steve Allen show drunk but that's neither here nor there.) That's the big difference here, at least in my opinion. Who cares what label you put on the book. James Frey claimed it was all THE TRUTH, in public, on television, in interviews. Ultimately, it's all his fault. Maybe one day he'll realize this.