January 16, 2006

Defending Fiction

...from Patry at Simply Wait:
One of the most disturbing thing about the whole James Frey brouhaha this week is that the book that sold 3.5 million copies was turned down by nearly every major publisher when it was offered as fiction.

Why? Because readers like you and me wouldn't buy it if it didn't have the imprimatur of TRUTH on it. At least, that's how the editors at 17 publishing houses saw it. I'd like to say they were wrong, that A Million Little Pieces would have sold just as well as a novel, but somehow I doubt it.

For the same reason that no one would watch a show about a bunch of college kids sitting around in their underwear whining or twenty-five women competing for a limp rose on THE BACHELOR if they thought (knew?) it was scripted, no one would have been willing to hold Frey's hand through 438 pages of vomit and bathos and teary redemption if they didn't believe it really happened.

As a fiction writer, I'm rather proud that a book with no claims to factual accuracy is held to a higher standard. If it's not "true," then it damn well better be well written--and believable. Kind of ironic, isn't it?

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