I don't watch Larry King very often. Usually it's something that I happen upon when I've finished watching reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show" or if I pass by it on the way to the History Channel. I believe that Larry King television's answer to Paul Harvey. That is to say: I'm not a huge fan. Larry's just a little to obsequious for me.
My mother had been watching way out Colorado way, and having the jump on me by a time zone, she let me know that James Frey was on Larry King. She's a regular reader of the blog and was introduced to Mr. Frey's work via "The Truth and Where It's Been Hiding." She told me that after she watched the show, she was more interested in reading "A Million Little Pieces."
Okay, I confess that part of me cynically wrapped my head around an ingenious marketing scheme wherein a book that had already been successful in its original printing had an additional surge of popularity after it was selected by Oprah's book club. What could you do to keep that ball in the air? Generate a little controversy. Still, all publicity is good publicity, and the fact that I am now writing a second blog myself about a book I have yet to read speaks volumes for the power of media exposure good or bad.
That being said, since my mother reads the blog, the least I could do is tune in and see what all the fuss was about. Turns out this James Frey character is a pretty straight shooter after all. He danced lightly around the issues of exaggeration and hyperbole in his memoir, but that (as noted here a few days ago) is the nature of personal memoir. Was what he wrote "the truth?" Maybe not. Was it truthful? You bet.
How do I know this? James' mother sat next to him for the last segment of the interview. She talked a little about the pain and fear of being the mother of an addict. I remembered my mother saying how she related to this lady's experience. I watched James Frey's face as his mother described her suffering, and eventually her relief at her son's recovery. I knew that face. He was ashamed, then embarrassed, then proud. If he had managed the details of his struggles with sobriety, he hadn't missed the core issues. He couldn't make up his mother.
Thank you mom, for telling me about Larry King and for giving me the chance to come back from the edge.