Was Oprah’s Defense of James Frey a Preemptive Strike?
A lot of people were surprised when Oprah Winfrey called in during Larry King’s interview of James Frey to stand behind Frey in the mess about whether, or just how much, Frey fictionalized his experiences in A Million Little Pieces. Winfrey argued that while some of Frey’s details may not be the stuff of non-fiction, the overall reading experience resonated with her, and all the hubbub was a distraction from the book’s strengths. Now I wonder if perhaps she was thinking ahead to her next Oprah Book Club selection as well. It’s just been announced that she has chosen Elie Wiesel’s holocaust memoir Night, a book that over the years has been challenged by critics as being a fantastical rendering of Weisel’s experiences at Auschwitz. (Some of those critics, it should be said, are outright Holocaust deniers; but many are not.) If you think the ethics of criticizing a drug-rehab author (Frey) are sticky, how about the ethics of criticizing a Holocaust-survivor author?