What is a Memoir?. Memoir, autobiography, biography
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Memoir, autobiography, biography
Examples of a memoir
Obviously, a memoir should be true. The author should not alter the truth in telling his or her story. In fact, Elie Wiesel checked the text and made minor corrections in his book, Night, before it was published in the US to make it as truthful as possible.
Memories are faulty, so a little leeway is given to authors of memoirs, but they are expected to be honest and to check their facts for accuracy. Many people believe that creating fiction and passing it off as nonfiction, as apparently was done by James Frey in his controversial “memoir” A Million Little Pieces, is completely unacceptable.
A Million Little Pieces is a semi-fictionalmemoir by James Frey. It tells the story of a 23-year-old alcoholic and drug abuser and how he copes with rehabilitation in a Twelve steps-oriented treatment center.
A badly tattered James awakens on an airplane to Chicago, with no recollection of his injuries or of how he ended up on the plane. He is met by his parents at the airport, who take him to a rehabilitation clinic. We find out that James is 23 years old, and has been an alcoholic for ten years, and a crack addict for three. He is also wanted by the police in three different states on several charges.
As he checks into the rehab clinic, he is forced to quit his substance abuse, a transition that we find out later probably saves his life, but is also an incredibly agonizing event. As part of this, he is forced to undergo a series of painful root canals, without any anesthesia because of possible negative reactions to the drugs. He copes with the pain by squeezing tennis balls until his nails crack. (When challenged on this incident, specifically, during his second Oprah appearance, Frey said that it may have been "more than one" root canal procedure and may or may not have included Novocaine, as he remembers it.)
The book follows Frey through the painful experiences that lead up to his eventual release from the center, including his participation in the clinic's family program with his parents, despite his strong desire not to. Throughout the novel, Frey speaks of the "Fury" he is fighting, which he sees as the cause of his desire to drink alcohol and use drugs. The "Fury" could be seen as the antagonist of the novel, because he believes that he will not be able to recover until he learns to ignore it or "kill it."
Who is James Frey? Did he do wrong?