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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 27, 2006 / 27 Teves, 5766

Fibbing for fame and fortune

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If a book causes you to stop every few paragraphs and say, "This is unbelievable!" it just might be. Unbelievable and untrue, as has been revealed about James Frey's blockbuster "memoir," "A Million Little Pieces."


Yes, I'm one of those who read the book, though not on Oprah's recommendation. I read the book because my cousin, Bay, insisted I read it. She insisted everyone read it. No one who entered Bay's home, for decades a welcoming retreat for people (and dogs) of all ages, could leave without promising to read Frey's book.


So I read it and admired its raw truth, even if I willingly ignored the nagging and experienced voice in my head: "Nobody has root canals without anesthesia," as Frey claimed. (And even if Nan Talese, Frey's editor and publisher at Doubleday, says she once had a root canal without anesthesia.) I even gave my copy to a young woman sitting next to me on an airplane who was on her way from rehab to a halfway house. We hugged, for crying out loud. (Anna, if you're reading this, I hope you're doing well and I'm sorry.) Then came Oprah, who endorsed the book as one of her book club picks, which bestows instant celebrity and bestseller status on a writer, followed by The Smoking Gun, a Web site (thesmokinggun.com), which published a detailed expose of fabrications throughout Frey's memoir.


Oprah, who initially defended Frey's true-ish work as nonetheless valuable, apologized Thursday on her show and told her audience that she felt duped.


Me, too. Finding out Frey invented important parts of his life story is like finding out that Frank McCourt ("Angela's Ashes") is really French and his father was a teetotaler.


On her show Thursday, a clearly angry Oprah challenged Frey (as well as Talese) point by point and retreated from her earlier defense of him. Early in the scandal, Oprah had called CNN's "Larry King Live" when Frey was a guest to say that though some book's details apparently were embellished or altered, the essence of the book was true.


As of Thursday, Oprah had changed her mind. It is clear now that Frey fictionalized much of the book and that Doubleday advanced a memoir that should have raised flags.


Does it matter? Yes. In a hundred different ways, it matters.


For one thing, I never would have plodded through such awful writing had I known the story wasn't true. Frey's writing style is broken, shattered, bumpy — the literary equivalent of "The Blair Witch Project's" cinematography. I figured the style was for effect, meant to reflect his drug-addled state of mind, and hoped it would improve as he did.


The writing never got better even though Frey kicked his addiction without any help from the 12-step program used successfully by others at the rehab clinic where he spent six weeks. The principle thrust of Frey's book is that he conquered his cocaine and alcohol addictions through sheer will. Frey professed repeatedly that he doesn't believe in a higher power and he could go it alone. To read the book is to believe he succeeded.


I confess that I liked that part of the story. I admire toughness and strength of will in people. But Frey's deceit on other matters casts doubt even on that part of his story. How addicted was he? Descriptions in the book in which Frey daily (sometimes hourly) vomits up chunks of his insides don't quite fit the Smoking Gun mug shot of a robust young man — the spoiled son of prosperous parents — when he was supposedly a hopeless addict.


In an era characterized by cynicism, what could be more cynical than telling a story of overcoming when one has nothing, or little, to overcome?


More important, millions of people do profit from 12-step programs and overcome addictions because — and only because — of them. Frey's proud condescension and his lies mock the good such programs do, trivialize the struggles of others, and negate any hopes his book may have inspired.


Finally, as Americans have lost faith in a spectrum of institutions — from religion to journalism to government to business — the memoir was considered a reliable bastion of veracity, a sort of literary group therapy where people could gather to expose or confess their deepest selves. We read memoirs as much to learn about ourselves as about those who pen them.


Frey's memoir is not so much a story of addiction and redemption as it is a tale of denial, betrayal and narcissism driven by raw ambition. In other words, a memoir of our times — true and revealing after all.

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