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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007 1:45 pm
Keeping the Name “James Frey” Alive Just a Little Bit Longer
Posted by: Keir Graff

Alert readers will spot a theme to today’s posts. In this one, self-published author (and director of Provincetown, MA’s tourism office) Bill Schneider learns a hard truth about lying: if you must lie, don’t make it a lie that anyone can fact-check with a quick visit to Oprah.com.

From the Weekly Dig (“It’s Story Time,” by Thomas Kilduff):

In March of this year, Schneider released his third book through self-publishers iUniverse. The book, a novelette called Crossed Paths, is described as a gay love story that takes place during “America’s Identity Crisis” of 1976. Schneider’s book has not necessarily been panned or praised by literary critics. They’ve barely touched it — which is odd, considering the book’s supposed fame.

On his website, the author writes, “I am very honored that my new novelette, Crossed Paths, has been selected as an edition [sic] to Oprah’s Book Club. This prestigious recognition paved the way to my appearance on ‘Oprah’ in May 2007. Click here to view a copy of the transcript from the show.”

After an excerpt from the transcript:

It seemed Oprah-ish enough: the wink toward Will and Grace, the heartfelt examination of the “stuff that makes us appear to be who we want others to believe we are.” Unfortunately, Oprah’s representatives say the conversation never took place.

His second mistake? Continuing the lie even while talking to a reporter investigating it.

When we talked, Schneider gushed to me about how “your whole life changes after Oprah.” James Frey would certainly agree with that sentiment.

Had he said he was just making a joke, that he figured no one would take him seriously – well, he would have lessened his chances of becoming a local punchline. At least James Frey apologized.

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