Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

For some reason yesterday was the day of reckoning for writers who fudge their pasts and/or may not even exist. The New York Timesouted past Times Magazine contributor J.T. Leroy as, in public at least, one Savannah Knoop. It's basically the other shoe dropping from last fall's convincing New York Magazine piece, which offers more detailed theories as to who Leroy is, or isn't, behind the scenes as well. Seems that the twentysomething, H.I.V.-positive, former truck stop prostitute may not have, um, existed. As such.

So who associate-produced Gus Van Sant's Elephant? Who's to say? Van Sant was at one point in talks to direct A Million Little Pieces, James Frey's now-ubiquitous, Oprah-approved memoir of his harrowing drug addiction and subsequent recovery. The only problem: Much of it didn't… oh, what's the word?… happen. Or at least that's what The Smoking Gun claims, persuasively and with much evidence, in a 12,000-word expose. Ouch.

I never read Leroy. I'm suspicious of literary phenoms embraced by those who usually don't read. I'd love to say I was as suspicious of Frey all along, but no. Looking over my review A Million LIttle Pieces, I realize I was snookered along with all the others that have made it a bestseller. I was just snookered sooner. Profiles I read of him made him sound like a bit of an ass. (Although my blogging pal Claire Zulkey insists he's a nice guy.) That distaste turns up in the review, but I never question the factuality of it all. Not the daring crack house rescue. Not the friendly gangster pal. Not the "wanted in three states" claims. Nothing.

And I feel stupid. It's an extremely compellingly written book. And looking back, of course it now seems too dramatic to be real. But at least I'm not alone in feeling stupid. And, Frey, it's a long way down from here.


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