James Frey is still the most hated author in America, said Erica Wagner in the London Times. Frey, 41, will likely never live down being called a fake and a liar on TV by Oprah Winfrey back in 2006. It was about at that time that his celebrated nonfiction memoir, A Million Little Pieces, was discovered to be more novel than memoir, containing gross fabrications about his time recovering from drug addiction. Frey went from best-selling author to pariah overnight. “I was certainly exiled, I believe, from the literary community,” he says.
As bad as things were then, Frey went through something much tougher in 2008, when his newborn son, Leo, died of a rare spinal condition just 11 days after he was born. “I’ll say that that happening puts a lot of stuff into perspective,” says Frey. “Is getting yelled at on TV that big a deal? Nah. Nah. That wasn’t even that bad a day. You go to your own child’s funeral: That’s a f---in’ bad day.”
Lately, he’s been drawing criticism for a new novel that portrays Jesus as a drug-using bisexual. He couldn’t care less. The Oprah debacle, he says, “freed me from a lot of expectations. Now I can do whatever I want. I want to be the guy who lives outside. Who breaks all the rules.”