I Can't Really Complain . . . But I Still Do
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ben's Monthly Book Review

Okay people, here's one for ya . . .

How long has it been since you last heard someone blabbing on about the controversy surrounding James Frey's pseudo-memoir "A Million Little Pieces"? In case you went ahead and booked that month-long trip to the moon and need a refresher on current events . . . that's the book-club pick that recently sent dear ole' Oprah herself into an apologizatory (is this a word) frenzy the likes of which I myself haven't witnessed since junior high. (It was a dodgeball incident and I would rather not get into it now.)

How long did you say? 3 minutes? 90 seconds? You're listening to someone talk about it while you're reading this?

Well, batten down any loose hatches and get as prepared as you possibly can, because I'm gonna go there. I really, really am.

Let me start by saying . . . that I started . . . the book that is. I asked for and received "A Million Little Pieces" for Christmas. Hey, what can I say, I was curious. I had heard some rumblings about how good it was and I actually liked the cover. I'm one of those people who IS influenced by a book's cover. IMHO this is part of the experience when you pony up a chunk of your money into purchasing and devote a chunk of your life to reading a book, and "A Million Little Pieces" has arguably one of the best covers in recent publishing history.

So, I was sitting on the book for a couple of weeks when the news broke that it ain't entirely true. Within minutes I couldn't help but hear all about X scene and Y scene and how it didn't really happen the way he wrote it and on and on and on. This might sound strange, but it actually made me want to read it even more. It was like everyone was shucking and jiving around the water cooler and I was standing over by the copy machine with an invisible "L" painted on my forehead.

That's when I opened the book. Dude, what font size are ya using there? .09? It's more like a million little words. I'm gonna need a stronger eyeglass prescription after tackling this one.

Okay, enough witty banter.

Here comes the book review part of this book review -

I'm 75 pages in and it's pretty good.

That's it. That's the review.

Actually, I was hoping to come back to a comments section full of vibrant commentary on a few of the more important issues raised by this post . . .

1. If you have read James Frey's book what did you think? How does the revelation that people sometimes embellish their memoirs affect your overall experience?

2. When you're standing around like a doofus at Barnes & Noble trying to pick something out, does an impressive book cover sway your mind in any way? What are some favorite book covers out there?

3. Didn't Oprah's hair look nice?

Ben O.


Blogger Shannon said...

Ummm I saw his interview on Oprah and he lied about alot of things in that book.. she said it should be renamed " A million little lies" LOL.. Don't know too much about it thou to be honest.. just wanted to say HI!! =)

2:49 PM  
Blogger anne said...

We haven't had that controversy over here yet. I was going to ask why, since it's apparently a good book, he wouldn't call it a novel, but I guess that'd be half the marketing appeal vanished, right?

2:53 PM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

My cousin Walker and I were exchanging emails in which he wrote," I saw your little expose on James Frey and I have to say that the book moved me to tears on more than one occasion and I was really disappointed that most it was a lie."

To which I said," At least you enjoyed it."

and that's it really. This guy should have just been up front with everyone and had a disclaimer saying some of it was based on experience and some it was bullshinikies.
Ya know?

5:27 PM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Oh yeah, and I am highly motivated to buy a book based on it's cover. I have too many favorites to even begin to list them but I will say that the thing I hate the most is when the book jacket has a scene from the movie it was made into instead of the original cover art. It bothers me to no end that my copy of The Princess Bride has actors on the cover. Lame!
I do love Stephen King's
The Eyes of the Dragon
look up Nick Hornby's Speaking with the Angel
Have you read High Fidelity?

5:30 PM  
Blogger Underachiever said...

1. I have not read this book.

2. I like book covers, but they aren't the reason I buy books... or shoplift them. Now dirty magazines, that's a different story...

3. Oprah's hair has it's own police department.

... I think I love the word Bullshinikies.


11:15 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

I haven't read it either. The spiteful side of me won't let me purchase anything that Oprah recomends, even though I do like her.
When I was in High School, I read a lot of those 'sword and sorcery books' because the covers were just so cool, with the ass kicking men and dragons and lush backrounds. I was easily amused then.
One of the coolest book covers that got me to buy a book that was outside the kind of books I normally read was "Life of Pi". How can you argue with a kid in a boat with a tiger? I couldn't. The book was good... except for the last 10 pages. Skip em. Trust me.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Ben O. said...

Shannon - Hi - Oprah was not happy . . . and if Oprah ain't happy ain't nobody happy. That interview was pretty uncomfortable to watch.

Anne - I agree . . . I have no problem with people making things up and writing about them. I'm pretty sure they call those things novels. I think his biggest problem wasn't even the writing of lies . . . it was the TELLING of lies. By that I mean that he stood on Oprah's stage after being announced as her book club pick and went on and on about how true everything in there was. That's where he shot himself. I just don't think she can forgive him for it.

Sadie 1 - Word of the day! 1,756 points for using the word "bullshinikies" on my comments section. Okay, let me check the records . . . it looks like you have 1,759 points total now. Way to go!

Sadie 2 - I agree with the redone covers that always have scenes from the movie on them. I totally understand that we live in a comercial world, but I just could not purchase a Tolkien book with one of the Goonies on the cover. Sorry, can't do it.

Undr - get in line dude . . . get in line.

Nypinta - Haven't read that one and I am usually good with covers of books that I haven't even read, but I can't recall that one. I will have to make a run to Barnes & Noble. Hey wait, I'm on the internet. Ain't technology grand?

Ben O.

9:31 AM  
Blogger beadinggalinMS said...

Have not read it yet, heard a lot of talk about it though.

9:55 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

Haven't read it, not going to. I'm with NYPinTA on this one - I don't like celebrities telling me what I should read. Maybe I like reading Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. Who is she to tell me I should broaden my horizons? Hmph!

And I have often bought a book because of its cover. Occasionally, it has been a letdown, but often it pays off. A cool writer rarely allows a lame cover.

10:21 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Dude - I must be on the moon. I keep hearing about this guy and the evil lies he did and everything but never saw this book and have no idea what it's about.

Anyways, Tyra Banks show is on and man, she is hot! I love Tyra Banks.

This show is pretty dumb, but I can't help watching it. Whoa, she just ran through Costco. :)

Weird thing about the Tyra Banks show is everyone in the audience is a woman. Where are the men? I'd go see this show if I were in town. Won't any other guys see this show?

9:04 PM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

I have so many points it is beyond useless for anyone else to try and beat me. I'm winning.

9:54 AM  

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