Much Ado about A Memoir that wasn't really a Memoir

I haven’t even read the book A MILLION LITTLE PIECES — and to think it was on my list of books I was dying to get my hands on!

Let me tell you my story about this book.  I’m one of those people who absolutely love OPRAH WINFREY.  I do not catch her show religiously but I do watch when I can.  I try to read her magazine although I don’t buy it every month.  (It’s also a favorite gift to friends when I think of giving single copy prints on occasion.)  During one of the few shows I managed to watch, Oprah announced her Book Club pick of the Month which is the best endorsement any written work can get because those she picks shoot straight up the bestseller list.  It was even so dramatic an announcement because the author’s mother was in the audience although she had no idea Oprah was picking her son’s book, so when Oprah announced it, she screamed and totally lost it out of sheer joy.

It’s supposed to be a very searing and brutally honest account of a person who wallowed in addiction and recovered with such aplomb and drama that the book was just a book you had to read.

Then came the question on veracity of the things accounted in the book.  After Oprah had so dramatically endorsed the book, James Frey, the author, guested in her show and recounted his “experiences”, leaving without a doubt in people’s minds that indeed, it was a memoir.  Frey guested in Larry King’s show and said the same thing, and Oprah even called in to give her endorsement anew. 

The criticisms never stopped coming, and the accusation of the book actually being a work of fiction just wouldn’t stop.  This morning, I tuned in to one of the news programs where they were talking to a writer from one of the major dailies here in New York and the topic was Oprah’s withdrawal of her endorsement because Frey and his publishers owned up to the fact that the book was embellished and not all accounts were true.  (I had a feeling about this when they mentioned that one claim of Frey was having gone through a root canal without anesthesia.. hindi ka ba naman maloka!)

Oprah Tells Frey He ‘Betrayed’ Readers
Thursday January 26 4:50 PM ET on Yahoo

In a stunning switch from dismissive to disgusted, Oprah Winfrey took on one of her chosen authors, James Frey, accusing him on live television of lying about “A Million Little Pieces” and letting down the many fans of his memoir of addiction and recovery.

“I feel duped,” she said Thursday on her syndicated talk show. “But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers.”

(Please click on the article title to get the full text from Yahoo News)

Poor Oprah.. I feel for her because the woman is just so magnanimous about her good will.. no wonder she is so blessed — but to be duped and used like she was, even the richest woman in America must hurt a lot.

I will still read the book but I feel rather dejected after sympathizing with Oprah’s disappointment.  It can wait.  Frey, I believe, is still a good writer — so good that people actually almost believed his fiction was non-fiction.


I’m trying to find a translation for the word Kutob.  The Tagalog-English Dictionary I found on gives its English equivalent as “foreboding”.  Good enough. 

I’m on page 72 of Malcolm Gladwell’s BLINK, and the reason why I wanted to get the translation for kutob is because that is what the book is all about.  He tries to explain in very practical terms that this foreboding that we feel when we do something without explanation or irrationally is actually a result of an unconscious decision we make.  He tells us we should trust it more and try to maximize its use to help us improve our lives.  I’m getting there.  And how sometimes, the decisions we make in a snap are actually as well founded as those that we make with utmost deliberation.

I guess one of the better ways of illustrating this is how we sometimes feel ill-at-ease when we first meet a person.  Don’t you find it weird how sometimes, for no reason at all, you feel like you just don’t like this person?  Or how you just know something’s wrong with a picture without exactly knowing what?

It’s not that profound a subject matter and Gladwell writes succintly, but it’s definitely not your next read if you’re more inclined to read romance novels.  What I like about Gladwell is his illustrations are stories we can all relate to, and which give you that wow effect at the end when you realize that it was THAT simple.  Grab a copy if you can.. let’s read it together.