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Friday, February 3, 2006

My Smobriety (And Other Whiny Recoverers)

Posted by on February 3 at 12:19 PM

The thing that nobody tells you…ever…about quitting smoking is that, once the nicotine completely leaves your system, your body becomes a lush and abiding petri dish for any virus that may come along. I have been ill for the last six days with the worst goddamn cold I’ve had since I had mono ten years ago. Two days in there, I slept for 19 hours. All of the anecdotal evidence I’ve scrounged up has confirmed that, not only is the Viciously Bad Cold part and parcel of the smoking cessation, I’m also likely to get sick two to three more times in the next year, plus whatever the number of times a year it is that I’m normally sick (once or twice). Which means that I can get sick up to six times in the first twelve months of smobriety. Which is almost enough to convince a man to smoke for his health, except for the fact that if I were to smoke right now, my lungs, which are currently moist dishrag-like things hanging limply in my chest cavity, would probably burst into flames. So, you know, fuck it. I’m committed.
And, for those who enjoy dead horses being beaten into A Million LIttle Pieces, there’s a bonus schadenFreyd post, after the jump.

The Wall Street Journal, among other outlets, ran a story yesterday about how all future editions of A Million Little Pieces will include a letter by James Frey (I'm sorry...make that "allegedly by James Frey") explaining and apologizing for the situation. There's also a copy of the letter included in the story. It's pretty standard, but this bit here in the last paragraph really caught my attention (emphasis mine):

I never expected the book to become as successful as it has, to sell anywhere close to the number of copies it has sold. The experience has been shocking for me, incredibly humbling, and at times terrifying. Throughout this process, I have met thousands of readers, and heard from many thousands more, who were deeply affected by the book, and whose lives were changed by it.

Of course, I attended Frey's reading at Town Hall Seattle this past June, where he said that he didn't want to be one of those critically acclaimed authors who sold two thousand copies of a book and he stated, flatly, that when writing AMLP, "I wanted to write a best-seller." (Incidentally, I attended the Frey reading with a friend of mine who really liked AMLP (I tried to read it and hated it,) but we both left the reading in disgust when Frey quoted a positive review of himself stating that he did with words what Picasso did with paint.) And when you combine that with this exerpt, from the April 4, 2003 Entertainment Weekly article introducing mild-mannered James Frey to the world...

Clearly, Frey doesn't lack for ambition. ''It's a new phenomenon that writers aren't willing to say, 'I want to be the f---ing best!''' he says. ''For most of the 20th century, when people like me grew up wanting to be writers, people like Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Norman Mailer -- none of those people got into writing and didn't take it f---ing seriously. They got into it saying, 'I'm going to write books that change people's lives. I'm going to write the best book of my generation. I'm going to be remembered as someone who changed the way people think and write and live.' Well, I don't have any problem with saying I want to be the f---ing best. People want to cut me down for that, fine. I don't care.... Let them take their shots.'' really kind of sounds like three-years-ago Frey would be a little shocked that he only sold four-plus-million copies of the goddamn thing.
And then I just really was charmed by the magazine-writer-y laziness of this paragraph from the same Entertainment Weekly article:

''Hello, best friends!'' calls out Frey when he returns to the Tribeca apartment he shares with his ad-exec wife, Maya, and two lovesick dogs. The latter are snorting, stamping, and twisting with excitement. The reunion is embarrassingly intimate, and for a tough-talking guy, Frey is almost startlingly sweet with his puppies, cootchie-cooing and giving kisses. ''Aren't you Daddy's best girl?'' he asks his Burberry-collared pit bull, Bella. ''Yes, you are! Oh yes, you are!'' he sings. ''This is going to sound strange, but to a certain extent Bella is very much representative of me. Yeah, she's a f---ing pit bull. Yeah, she'll tear your head off if that's what she decides she wants to do. But she's never done it. She's just a kind, sweet, loving little doggie. All Bella wants is kisses and hugs.''

Besides the fact that the awkward wording really makes me wish that I had an ad-exec wife who greeted me while snorting, stamping, and twisting with excitement, I just can't believe that Frey said this or that the writer used it in her article or that the editors let it run. "I'm like a pit bull....I could totally kill you if I wanted to, I just don't want to...but all I want is to be wuvved."
I know that at this point, we're all collectively yawning over the Frey matter, but, really, whenever anyone asks "Who writes this bullshit?" isn't the appropriate answer: "Who reads this bullshit?" I think it's important, at least on the level that the publicity/media megamachine has gotten so fucking lazy that anyone can creep through and say whatever they want and everybody just eats it up? And, really, lastly, can we all make a solemn vow not to buy the new Ayelet Waldman novel, no matter what inflammatory stuff we may read about the author's love life and parenting skills?
I thank you for your kind attention. That is all.

CommentsRSS icon

After quitting smoking (Around the beginning of November) I felt like a million dollars. My whole life I've been a paragon of health as far as colds/flus have gone.

Since quitting smoking, I've gotten 2 differnt cases of tonsilitis, and had a nasty sore throat in between all that.

The reality is that I'd rather add an extra 30+ years onto my life and deal with 12 months of sickness.

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