To Frey or not to Frey

by | Feb 1, 2006 | Book Marketing Basics

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Yesterday I got a call from a reporter who wanted my comment on the Frey scandal. I don’t think he liked what I offered him especially when I said: “What scandal?” The truth is that memoir – as with anything written from memory – is subject to our own slants and filters and, let’s face it people will often remember the same situation two entirely different ways. Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t explain the inaccuracies in Frey’s book, nor does it excuse lying, but investigate 10 memoirs and I challenge you to not find a thread of fiction, just like in about every fiction you’ll find a little bit (or a lot) of fact. But the bigger and most important issue here is that it’s not about the inaccuracies of a memoir or whether Frey lied intentionally, the issue here is that if we’re going to force one author to be so scrutinized we must all abide by the same rules. If we raise the bar on one person, we must raise them on everyone. Are we really ready for that? When does hype bow down to serious fact checking, disclaimers and all the things that any publisher knows, could kill a book buzz quicker than a public apology on Oprah. The truth is, we are a desensitized society. We are mesmerized by train wrecks and addicted to breaking news. Sensationalism begets sensationalism, and these days in order to sell it has to bleed more, cry more and tilt the drama scale to the breaking point. We’re no longer satisfied with the sugary sweet, we need the 100%, high octane shot in the arm. Especially when it comes to memoir. So what’s a publisher to do? Give the public what they want a sensational story of triumph and tragedy and face the litany of inaccuracies or offer a dry, watered down version attorneys have poured over. Personally I think Barnes and Noble had better consider adding some extra shelf space in the fiction section.


  1. Thomas Brooks

    Scandal is “relative”. The new level of scrutiny will be a big challenge for authors. In the Introduction section to my new book A Wealth of Family, I offered a bit of a disclaimer: “I have done my best to present an accurate story, taking advantage of detailed notes and videotapes of key trips and events. The content is my perspective, my memories. It is objectively factual to me but not necessarily objective.”

    Thomas Brooks
    Author, A Wealth of Family

  2. Sylvia Hubbard


    I guess you’re right about the memoir part, but I don’t think the reporter asked you the right question.

    They should have said how to you feel about the guy being so high he can’t tell reality from fiction.

  3. Louise Bannerman

    I feel the same way that a memoir is how you see it or how you experienced it, no two people are alike in their thought process. Although, sex and lies sell in the end there’s a price to pay.

    I often wonder: should I publish my memoir, “Living with the Three of Me” or should I stay quiet? The fact of the matter is my story is so true because it happened to me. But others will think it’s fiction or that I’m crazy. No matter what a person writes, I believe it’s up to the reader in the end to decide what’s true or fake.

    So that’s why I have decided to go ahead and share my story, because I want others to know that they are not alone and there’s hope.

    Louise Bannerman,

    Writer and Massage Therapist


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