Part 1 of Unashamed USAToday is here. As my travel schedule has picked up, USAToday has inserted itself into my life. I don't get my news from USAToday, as most of the information it provides I've already seen. But, the reporting in it is just atrocious, so this will be a running series. (Since ARC:Brian is traveling as well, perhaps he could weigh in on occasion.)
Speaking of a time and a place, this little article from yesterday's USAToday appeared outside my hotel room yesterday... as usual, I didn't get a chance to read this piece of pulp fiction until I was on the plane and out of laptop battery. However, it's a clear example of how serious Bush Derangement Syndrome is. Erica Jong (a poet & novelist) has this article about the James Frey kerfluffle, giving her thoughts on the publishing world, steps that Frey could've taken, etc - I've excerpted some of the more boring bits. But, it all circles back to Bush for her:
The truth about books (and us)
In digging into the Frey controversy, one can learn plenty about the author, but even more about the state of this country.
By Erica Jong
By now everyone from Oprah Winfrey, the queen of candor, to Maureen Dowd, the queen of clever, to Liz Smith, the queen of gossip, has weighed in about the Strange Case of James Frey — as Dickens might have termed it. OK, we know the basics: Frey published a “memoir” — whether on his own say-so or at the request of his publisher is not clear.
There are more than 3.9 million copies in print, and The Smoking Gun found that he did not spend months in jail, among other exaggerations and inaccuracies. Oprah chastised the author on her show, and he looked suicidal. After Oprah changed her mind about the book because of its lying, the author also sheepishly agreed with her. Does he have no opinions of his own?
I've now read it (chalk up one more copy sold) and found it sloppily written and emotionally bankrupt (capitalizing nouns as people did in the 18th century does not emphasize their importance — it's just a typographical tic). I've been to the famed Minnesota recovery clinic Hazelden, and the scenes there are impossible.
If Frey had been self-effacing and honest, who could have objected? It's difficult to sell books, and authors are desperate. Few people have time to read. Most talk shows want only Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie boxing. Authors used to appear on The Tonight Show in Johnny Carson's day (we appeared last, of course), but we're no longer welcome.
Promoting books is tough. So who could blame Frey for courting Oprah and obeying his publisher? I don't. But he didn't have to dither around on Larry King. He could have just said: “Writers exaggerate, and I'm a writer.” End of story.
But then, he never would have gotten all that ink. So maybe he's a lot smarter than I thought he was. Still, there's no denying that much of this blurring of the line between fiction and fact has gotten trickier — since we've had a misleader in chief who says “clear skies” for pollution, and we have a Pentagon that says “transfer cases” for the shipping of human remains instead of the body bags we spoke of during the Vietnam War. The American language has been utterly polluted from the top down.
I used to think that it didn't much matter who was president because we still had our system of separation of powers and a piece of parchment called The Constitution and a Bill of Rights to protect us. I have been proven wrong. This White House and its minions have outdone all previous ones in propitiating the Big Lie. And they still seem to be getting away with it — unlike the Clinton White House — despite plummeting poll numbers. They seem to know something woolly admirers of the Enlightenment (like me) don't: The American people are too busy, too stressed, too underpaid and undereducated to realize how thoroughly they've been rooked. If you can perfect fake news, fake reporters, fake slogans — and charge the poorest taxpayers for them — there's no limit to how far you can go. Throw in some electronic voting machines with no paper trails, and you can spin this theory of the Potemkin presidency out forever.
Character no longer matters, nor does truth — whatever that is. But you can tell the truth in books — at least for a little while longer (probably because nobody reads 'em) — so books remain the final repository for truth. Let's not lose that, OK?
Erica Jong, poet, novelist and memoirist, has a memoir, Seducing the Demon, coming out in March.
What amazes me is that this sentiment is considered to be that of the intellectuals and the elites in the country.
Memo to Erica - Forming your opinions from stories in the New York Times, DailyKos, and 9/11 Truth does not make you an intellectual. It makes you an uninformed idiot.
ARC: St Wendeler