James Frey: ‘There Isn’t a Great Deal of Difference Between Fact and Fiction’

James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning comes out in the U.K. this week, and the press has started to come in. The most interesting thing so far is a dramatic little feature from the Times called “The US Antihero” by Alan Franks. Quotes from Frey are peppered throughout the piece, including this doozy:

I’ve been in conflict with everything for my whole life. That’s the rule, not the exception. Conflict with myself, over ideas of how to live and think, what to think, what to believe. My wife laughs and says I’m only comfortable when there’s a fight. I have to have it. I’m at my best and most comfortable when there is a fight. I feel I have to prove myself over and over again. I wrote the first one, and it was a bestseller. It was doing well even before Oprah. No one believed I could do it again, but I did it again [with My Friend Leonard]. I’m in conflict with what writing is, in conflict with what literature is, in conflict with what people’s acceptable standards are. In conflict with the idea of what fiction and non-fiction is, or are. There are things that will play themselves out. I’m not done with twisting the lines of fact or fiction. I’m not finished with that issue by any stretch of the imagination. There isn’t a great deal of difference between fact and fiction, it’s just how you choose to tell a story.

Hello, Night of the Gun! Frey again:

The US media wants to hold me to standards it supposedly holds itself to. But I’m not a journalist, I don’t claim to be one, I’m not going to follow anyone else’s rules because they tell me I should. The only standards imposed on the creation of [my] books are the ones I want there to be. What means something is if my book is read in 50 years. That’s the only goal. If I have to take some big shots in the process of trying to make that happen, then I’m prepared to take those big shots.

At the end of the article there’s kind of a huge revelation, though knowing Frey’s prankish tendencies, it very well might be a joke. According to the Times, at least, Frey’s next book will be called The Final Testament of the Bible, and it will “concern his ideas of who and what the Messiah is—he doesn’t claim he’s it—as if Christ were walking the streets of New York. It will be written in chapter and verse form.” Frey explains: “I don’t think my idea of what the Messiah would be is in line with what most religious American people’s would be. I don’t think he would be a judgmental person condemning individuals for actions that they may be genetically predisposed to taking. It will be the third book of the Bible. If I do that effectively, it’s going to ruffle some feathers.”

Thanks to the Big Jim Industries Web log for the link.

James Frey: ‘There Isn’t a Great Deal of Difference Between Fact and Fiction’