James Frey is writing a new book, and this time he’s calling it fiction.
The author of the notorious “A Million Little Pieces,” the addiction memoir he acknowledged largely fabricating, will have a novel released in summer 2008 by HarperCollins. The publisher of Harper Collins told The Associated Press that the novel, “Bright Shiny Morning,” was a “kaleidoscopic” portrait of modern Los Angeles.
“It has great emotional power,” said Jonathan Burnham, who added that he had befriended Frey a year ago and had known of the new book for several months.
A HarperCollins publicist said there would be no comment from Frey, whose career was seemingly finished a year ago after allegations emerged that he had embellished, or entirely invented, substantial portions of “A Million Little Pieces.”
Oprah Winfrey, who had picked the memoir for her book club, later angrily turned against the author, chewing him out on her television program. Frey’s agent dropped him, as did Penguin Group USA, which had negotiated a seven-figure contract with him. The publisher of “A Million Little Pieces,” Doubleday, ended up offering refunds to customers who felt they had been duped.
But readers had not given up on him. Into 2007, “A Million Little Pieces” has continued to sell at least 1,000 copies a week, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks industry sales. Nan Talese, who published Frey through her own imprint at Doubleday, said he deserved another chance.
“He’s doing what he always wanted to do,” Talese told The Associated Press. She was strongly interested in the book after hearing about it from Frey’s new agent, Eric Simonoff, but said that HarperCollins had agreed to terms with Frey before she had a chance to see the manuscript.
“I’m very happy for James. It’s a fresh start,” she said.
Frey was a screenwriter, based in Los Angeles, before “A Million Little Pieces” was published in 2003, to a strong mix of praise, criticism and skepticism. Winfrey’s endorsement, in the fall of 2005, revived interest, but led to a devastating investigative report by the Web site www.thesmokinggun.com.
Frey, who turned 38 on Wednesday, has also written a second, highly disputed memoir, “My Friend Leonard,” and has said that he wanted to write a Los Angeles-based novel. On the Winfrey program he said he would not write about the debunking of “A Million Little Pieces.”
Burnham acknowledged that he would have felt “differently” had Frey written another memoir, but said that he remained a great admirer of “A Million Little Pieces.”
“Whatever view one might hold of what happened with that book, I was deeply struck by the writing,” Burnham said.