The infamous Nan Talese comments about Oprah are now available for your viewing pleasure here.
She didn’t even talk for that long, but I guess people don’t usually diss Oprah, hence the whole world is now weighing in, once again, on the brouhaha.
Here’s my own personal opinion (I know you were waiting for it). I think that Nan Talese was grandstanding a bit, and that her comments sounded defensive. If Oprah’s people did indeed treat Nan Talese as she said they did, and I have no reason to believe they didn’t, then their own actions were reprehensible.
However, let us not forget that all of this brouhaha is based on bad behavior to begin with, okay? As a writer, I believe in truth, through and through. How can you not? That is the absolute bedrock core of what we do as writers–tell the truth, and that goes for writing both fiction and non-fiction.
It is important to remember that truth for each of us is different. If 12 writers wrote an account of the same event, every account would be completely different because each of them would see a different truth. But that is not the same as presenting material as truth when it is not.
I have heard–and again, I don’t know for sure that this is true–that James Frey originally tried to sell his book as a novel, but the publishers (and by extension, Nan Talese) told him they wanted to put it out as a memoir because it would sell more books.
That’s bad behavior, folks. Sorry, but it is. And thus, she has just a wee bit to be defensive about.
What amazes me is how and why we’re still talking about it, a year and a half later. There’s something about this story that strikes to the core of our beliefs about honesty and disingenuous and betrayal.
By the way, you’ll notice once again that I’m not linking James Frey to Amazon in this post. I have no interest in helping him sell more books.