Berkeley Group Will Protest James Frey's Reading


A Berkeley-based organization calling itself Down With Frey plans to protest author James Frey's scheduled reading tonight at Slim's in San Francisco. Two years after extravagant claims of crack addiction, jail, and other dramas including a root canal sans anesthetic in Frey's megabestselling "memoir" A Million Little Pieces were exposed as having been fabricated, the author has a new book out, a novel called Bright Shiny Morning.

That Frey is being published at all, much less with major PR fanfare by a major house such as Harper Collins, seems truly unfair to all writers who ever bothered to tell the truth in print. These include Down With Frey founder Jan Frel.

"James Frey is a disgrace, a sham, a fraud and a plagiarizer," says Frel. "He peddles the worst lies about society: that drugs are bad and the cause of addicts' problems, and that people can change. While most authors make a straight beeline for the exit doors after being revealed as frauds, Frey is shamelessly sticking around. ... The lack of public courage to denounce his very presence in the literary field is tied to the exact same passive degeneracy we're witnessing in Washington. Someone's got to take this on."

At the protest, Frel and his fellow protesters will distribute essays to attendees analyzing Frey's disgrace "and why he's a stain on society." He says his group is also conducting "a charity drive." All donated copies of Frey's books will be brought to an Oakland recycling center, he vows; the proceeds will go to 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing program founded by yet another memoirist, Dave Eggers, for children in San Francisco's Mission District.—Anneli Rufus