The American writer, James Christopher Frey is best known to be the author of bestsellers including A Million Little Pieces (2003), My Friend Leonard (2005) and Bright Shiny Morning (2008). Frey was subject to controversy and scandal when investigators discovered that major parts of his book, A Million Little Pieces, which was supposed to be an autobiographical account of the author’s struggle with addiction were untrue.
In 1992, James Frey graduated from Denison University in Granville, Ohio after which he began his career in writing. In addition to working on several jobs in Chicago, Frey continued studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. He then moved to Los Angeles and began working as a screenwriter, director and producer. In 1996, Frey began working on A Million Little Pieces which he originally presented as an account of his experiences during alcohol and drug addiction treatment at a rehabilitation center in Minnesota.
Frey also wrote the screenplay for the film Kissing a Fool as well as Sugar: The Fall of the West, which he also directed. Both the movies were produced in 1998.
In April 2003, Doubleday published A Million Little Pieces. The editors at Amazon.com selected it as their favorite book of the year. The book received excellent reviews from all well reputed newspapers including The New Yorker.
A Million Little Pieces was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her monthly book club making it an overnight success selling over two million copies. However, the hype led to scrutiny over its contents. In 2006, The Smoking Gun released a report against the book and James Frey. The report raised questions about the authenticity of the book stating much of the details in the book had been fabricated. At first Frey denied all allegations but as the accusations increased, he was forced to make a public apology on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Nan Talese from Doubleday also admitted the fact that Doubleday failed to carry out an authenticity check of the memoir before publicizing it.
The consequences of the scandal led to agreeing that all future editions of the book would include notes from the author and publisher. Frey was also dropped by his literary agent due to which he lost a two-book seven figure deal. In 2006, Frey and the publishers Random House agreed on the legal settlement that readers who felt they had been misled by the book would be offered a refund.
My Friend Leonard came out in 2005. This book continued from where A Million Pieces left off. The book revolved around the relationship of father and son Frey and his friend Leonard shared. This book was published by Riverhead. My Friend Leonard too became a bestseller and once again the editors at Amazon.com selected it as their no.5 favorite book of the year. James Frey’s next book, Bright Shiny Morning was written in 2007 and published in 2008 by HarperCollins. With a huge fan following, Frey’s books have been published in 31 languages all over the globe. In addition to writing his own books, James Frey also collaborated with John Hughes on I am Number Four and The Power of Six in 2010.