The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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A million little people

How far some people will go for a buck

Published in 2003, author James Frey presented the book “A Million Little Pieces” as a completely factual memoir. The book, which tells the story of a 20-something alcoholic and drug addict, landed on The New York Times’ best-seller list, and Oprah’s Book Club. Frey earned more than $4 million from the book.

Three years later, the Web site The Smoking Gun posted reports that said Frey had made up parts of the memoir. Frey did not deny the reports. According to reports, Random House, the publishers of “Little Pieces,” was offering readers some financial compensation if they felt deceived by Frey’s novel.

Recently, attorney Larry D. Drury filed a class action suit in Manhattan Federal Court, awarding damages to duped readers. The courts awarded Drury and his 1,729 clients part of the $2.35 million that Random House set aside to deal with disgruntled readers. $27,348 will go to settle the claims, $783,000 will pay for legal fees and $432,000 will go to publicizing and carrying out parts of the settlement.

Divide up the settlement money between the 1,729 complainants and everyone gets a little more than 15 bucks. Barnes and Noble lists the book at $14.95 on its Web site, and we’re guessing the book may have lowered in price since it came out more than four years ago. Those who bothered to complain, who said they felt deceived by a stranger’s story, got, literally, about a dollar for their troubles. Mr. Drury is the big winner.

True or not, Frey’s story was an intriguing one. Even after Oprah Winfrey laid into Frey on her show, the book remains on her Web site as part of her book club.

Anytime someone passes through the checkout line at the grocery store, they are being fed information that is presented as true. We still have yet to see the 400-pound baby with the two extra toes, but we sure aren’t calling our attorneys.

Tabloid readers obviously have much different expectations than do readers of novels. This may not be the best comparison, but the National Enquirer isn’t going out of business anytime soon. People still like to read what goes on between these pages, even if they aren’t necessarily true.

Ed Board is not condoning what James Frey did. The author misrepresented himself and deceived people. He should have originally presented “Little Pieces” as fiction. But for those 1,729 readers who went as far as federal district court for a buck, enjoy the story for what it’s worth, and get a life.

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