Thursday, January 26, 2006

More on a Million Little Lies...

from PW Daily

Doubleday/Anchor to Reissue AMLP With Notes

After James Frey's painful trip to Oprah's couch this afternoon—the author sat through a live taping of the talk show with a stunned look as journalists and Oprah skewered him for fictionalizing key elements of his memoir A Million Little Pieces—Doubleday/Anchor, announced it will be adding both a publisher's note and author's note to all future editions of the book.

Frey's hardcover publisher Nan Talese, who appeared alongside the author on the Oprah broadcast, made mention of the changes on-air. In its statement, Doubleday/Anchor noted that while it initially stood by Frey, after further questioning of the author, the house has "sadly come to the realization that a number of facts have been altered and incidents embellished." Doubleday/Anchor apologized to the public "for any unintentional confusion surrounding the publication" of Pieces.

The company said that no new copies of the book will be shipped and it will not go back to press for new editions without the two notes. The notes will also be posted on as well as mailed to booksellers to insert in existing copies. Books with the update could be headed to bookstores by next month. —Rachel Deahl

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


from the NY Times, January 24, 2006

Treatment Description in Memoir Is Disputed

To Oprah Winfrey, the power of James Frey's memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," lay not in whether the author really spent three months in jail, as he claimed, or whether he lost a lover to suicide.

Rather, she said in her now-famous call to CNN's "Larry King Live" on Jan. 11, where Mr. Frey defended himself against accusations that he falsified significant parts of his life story, it was the author's story of recovery, a rebirth that took place within the walls of an addiction treatment center, that provided "the underlying message of redemption" that resonated with her.

But more than three months before questions were raised about Mr. Frey's memoir by the Smoking Gun Web site ( - before, in fact, Ms. Winfrey first had Mr. Frey as a guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" - producers at the program were told by a former counselor at the foundation that runs the Minnesota treatment center reportedly used by Mr. Frey that his portrayal of his experience there grossly distorted reality.

Several other addiction counselors who formerly worked for the organization, the Hazelden Foundation, which runs the Hazelden rehabilitation center in Center City, Minn., have also come forward to dispute Mr. Frey's claims about Hazelden. The accusations call into question what Mr. Frey has labeled the "essential truth" of his book, the "420 of the 432 pages" that take place during treatment. It was Mr. Frey's story of redemption that led Ms. Winfrey to make "A Million Little Pieces" a selection for her television book club and propelled it to sales of more than two million copies.

After receiving the information from Debra Jay, a Michigan addiction counselor who herself has been a frequent guest on Ms. Winfrey's program, a senior producer for the "The Oprah Winfrey Show" conducted an extensive interview with Ms. Jay. It is not known if Ms. Winfrey was apprised of the concerns, but she made no mention of the potential discrepancies in her many on-the-air comments about "A Million Little Pieces," including when she called the book "all completely true" on her program and told Mr. Frey, "I don't doubt you."

In response to questions last week about the early warning given to the program, a spokeswoman for Ms. Winfrey, Angela DePaul, said, "We have no comment."

In a statement, Mr. Frey said he was not acquainted with any of the people who were disputing his account. "It's quite possible that different people have different experiences," he said. "There are situations that patients experience that staff know nothing about and which are deliberately kept from them."

Since "A Million Little Pieces" was published in 2003, it has been widely reported that the center described in the book is Hazelden, assertions that neither Mr. Frey nor Hazelden has disputed. Hazelden officials, citing medical confidentiality regulations, say they can neither confirm nor deny that Mr. Frey was there. But Mr. Frey's descriptions of the center in his book, which say that it is a lakeside retreat in rural Minnesota that opened in 1949, leave little doubt that he is talking about Hazelden.

"His description of treatment at Hazelden is almost entirely false," said Ms. Jay, who trained as an addiction counselor at Hazelden's operations in Minnesota and who is the co-author of two guides to treating addiction published by the Hazelden Foundation. She has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" at least six times to discuss issues related to alcohol and drug addiction.

Ms. Jay said she voiced her objections about "A Million Little Pieces" to a senior producer for Ms. Winfrey's program on Oct. 1, nearly a month before Ms. Winfrey's interview with Mr. Frey was broadcast. "I'm coming forward because his descriptions of treatment are so damaging," Ms. Jay said. "These are things that could not happen to anybody at Hazelden or at any reputable licensed treatment center."

Among the episodes she and the other former counselors have called into question are Mr. Frey's claims of being physically abused by other residents of the treatment center, of being left to sleep on the floor of a common room overnight after an altercation, of regularly vomiting blood and of having his nose rebroken and set by a doctor. "He describes a level of medical care that would not occur at Hazelden," Ms. Jay said. "He would have been taken to an emergency room, and any violent behavior would have been met with a discharge."

"I can surely confirm there were disputes between patients and no one remembers better than I do vomiting blood," Mr. Frey said.

In interviews over the last week, Ms. Jay and the other counselors said they had decided to speak publicly because they feared that Mr. Frey's portrayal of rehabilitation was more likely to scare people away than lead them to seek help. While questions have been raised about the book's depiction of rehab by some critics and in online chatter, this is the first time treatment professionals who have worked inside Hazelden have spoken publicly at length.

None of the former Hazelden employees who have decided to speak out ever met Mr. Frey during his stay at Hazelden; nor could they talk about it if they had. But each of them said the regulations and procedures at Hazelden were subject to rigorous review by groups of counselors, so that the many breaches of protocol described by Mr. Frey would have been unlikely to go unnoticed.

Carol Colleran, who worked for 17 years in the Hazelden system, including two years at the Minnesota locations, said that unlike Mr. Frey's contention on "Larry King Live" that only about 5 percent of his book is in dispute, "98 percent of that book is false" in its descriptions of how Hazelden works.

Ms. Colleran, now a certified addiction professional in West Palm Beach, Fla., said she sent her complaints about the book to the Winfrey program by e-mail in November. Ms. Colleran also posted questions about the book on that month.

"I have had young people say to me that if they had a child who was having problems, they would never send them to treatment after reading that book," Ms. Colleran said.

John H. Curtiss, the president of the Retreat, another inpatient treatment center in Minnesota, worked at Hazelden for more than 19 years, including during the early 1990's, the period that Mr. Frey has said he was in treatment. Though he never met Mr. Frey at Hazelden, Mr. Curtiss did meet the author when Mr. Frey traveled to the Retreat last fall along with Ms. Winfrey's producers to film a segment for the program.

The segment had Mr. Frey greet and talk with a client at the Retreat who had written to Ms. Winfrey saying that his book had convinced her to seek help for her addiction.

Mr. Curtiss spoke to Ms. Winfrey's producers about the book during their visit to the Retreat, but he declined to provide details about the conversation. He also said he spoke to Mr. Frey.

"I told James that I've been there, that I worked there and I've never seen any of those things happen at Hazelden," Mr. Curtiss said. "In a million years those things would not happen at Hazelden. He said that was his recollection, but that he changed the names."

Mic Hunter, a psychologist who worked for four years at Hazelden-related treatment centers in Minnesota, said Mr. Frey's book made him angry. "It's hard enough for people to get accurate information about treatment because of all the confidentiality rules," he said. "So many people have negative feelings about treatment to begin with. Why would anybody want to send anyone to a treatment program where they would be treated like this? He is claiming it is true, but it's not."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

M.J. Rose at Murder on the Beach

It was such a thrill for me to finally meet one of my favorite authors, M.J. Rose. I heard about MJ when her first book, Lip Service, a self-published tome, was picked up by the Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club in the late 1990's. It was big news in the book business, a first for a self-published novel. Then it went to auction and was published by a traditional house. I snagged myself a copy and fell in love with her unique writing style and I've been hooked ever since.

These days Rose is writing a series of psychological suspense. Her lead character is a sex therapist and single mom, Dr. Morgan Snow, and the books are set in New York City. The first book, The Halo Effect, was terrific and I just started the new one, The Delilah Complex. I've had to reluctantly put it down (temporarily!) to read Steinbeck for school. I'll just say this: Steinbeck may be a great writer, but he's slow going compared to Rose!

This is her first book tour and Rose was impressive. She's very personable and warm and really turned what could have been just another reading and book signing into a memorable event. She spoke about her careers, her books, and the publishing industry and then decided to make the program interactive. Most people believe that at least parts of what they read in a work of fiction are somewhat autobiographical to the author. Rose has proposed a contest: she asks attendees at her signings to guess how many instances of "truth" there are in her newest book. Whoever guesses closest will win a gift certificate to the bookstore they saw her in. And then she took it a step further; there was a small enough group for Rose to turn the tables and ask her fans some questions for a change. She wanted to know about what they read and why, and what makes them stop reading a series. It was a fun and fascinating evening.

Borders(R) Announces 2005 Original Voices(R) Award Winners
19.01.2006 19:12:00

Borders today announced the winners of the 2005 BordersOriginal Voices Awards, the retailer's program that shines a deserving light on emerging and innovative authors and musicians. Winners will receive $5,000 from the company for their outstanding achievement in crafting creative, original books and music. In addition, the winners will be honored at a special breakfast reception during the 2006 BookExpo America convention in Washington, D.C. in May.

Nicole Krauss' "The History of Love," published by W. W. Norton &Company, won top honors in the fiction category from a field of six finalists. According to members of the Borders selection committee, Krauss did "a masterful job of interweaving many story lines, bringing them all together in a moving and meaningful way, and the ending is pitch-perfect, down to the last line." "The History of Love," set in New York, tells the story of the intersecting lives of Leo Gursky, an aging Polish immigrant, and Alma Singer, a 14-year-old girl trying to hold her fragile family together.

"Finding George Orwell in Burma," written by Emma Larkin andpublished by The Penguin Press, was the nonfiction winner among six finalists. Larkin spent a year traveling around Burma, a shuttered military dictatorship in Southeast Asia, using the life and work of George Orwell as her guide. Members of the nonfiction committee said Larkin's story offers "an interesting perspective on how intellect survives the worst of humanity while still retaining a high standard of dignity. It is an eloquent and poetic blend of travel narrative,literary criticism and political commentary."

In the children's picture book category, "Russell the Sheep," written and illustrated by Rob Scotton and published by HarperCollins Publishers, was named the winner from a field of six finalists. This charming story of a sheep that can't sleep won the hearts of the Borders selection committee, who commented that this title is "a playful, unique take on traditional bedtime and counting books and Russell is just plain darling."

"Elsewhere," written by Gabrielle Zevin and published by Farrar,Straus and Giroux, was named the winner in the young adult category. Members of the selection committee found that this novel about life after death offers "a fascinating concept of the afterlife and is ultimately a novel full of hope." "Elsewhere" is where 15-year-old Liz Hall has ended up after dying; a place filled with those who have passed before and where life is lived backward, from the age at your death until you are once again an infant. One committee member commented, "I can only hope that the afterlife contains some of the elements that make "Elsewhere" so special. This is truly a marvelous book for readers of all ages."

For the first time, the 2005 Borders Original Voices program included music selections and from the group of six finalists, "Careless Love" by Madeleine Peyroux on the Rounder Records Group label was selected as the winner. In choosing this title as the award recipient, music committee members said, "It is Peyroux's voice that first catches your ear, but it is her beautiful, laid back, melodic jazz treatments of everything from Leonard Cohen to Bob Dylan to Hank Williams that keeps you listening."

"As in previous years, our committee members reviewed an outstanding selection of books and music for the 2005 Borders Original Voices awards," said Mike Spinozzi, executive vice president and chief product officer of Borders Group, Inc. "Each of the winning titles highlights the amazing new and emerging talent in the publishing and music industries and each represents the best-of-the-best from this past year. We are proud to honor this musician and group of authors for their exceptional works."

The six nominees in each category were chosen by Borders store employees and corporate office employees and the winners were selected by a cross-functional panel of judges at the corporate office, who volunteered to read each book nominated and listen to each CD and serve in several group discussions on the nominated selections.

Throughout the year, the Borders Original Voices program features the works of more than 200 contemporary authors/illustrators and musicians from around the world in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, young adult, picture books, and music. The monthly program highlights innovative and ambitious new work from new and emerging talents, as well as works that represent a new direction for established authors and musicians. All featured titles receive special placement in Borders stores, and are also highlighted in the in-store magazine, "Borders This Month."

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