Michiko Kakutani on James Frey:

By focusing on the "indeterminacy" of texts and the crucial role of the critic in imputing meaning, deconstructionists were purveying a fashionably nihilistic view of the world, suggesting that all meaning is relative, all truth elusive. And by focusing on the point of view of the historian (gender, class, race, ideology, etc.), radical feminists and multiculturalists were arguing that history is an adjunct of identity politics, that all statements about the past are expressions of power and that all truths are therefore political and contingent.

This is precisely my problem with postmodernism, and why I want to slam my fist through Frey's face and all of the writers whose basic response to his forgery is: "ho hum, what is 'truth' anyway?" Postmodernism buries itself. Kakutani's assessment of postmodernism, that "all meaning is relative, all truth elusive," is the noose with which it hangs itself. If truth is elusive, then that statement itself, those words, must be true and truth isn't elusive, for how elusive can it be if we can identify it as being anything? Going a step further, postmodernism claims that there is no such thing as truth. If this is to be believed, then that statement itself must be true, and so the truth does exist: it being that there is no such thing as "the truth." The statements refute themselves. Yet so many people buy into this bullshit. It is why we have "reality TV," contemporary politics, and why people like James Frey and "JT LeRoy" can get away with being frauds. It is why "JT LeRoy" can protest that s/he has the "right" to be whoever s/he wants. Uh, no. You have no right to claim that you were an abused child, you have no right to delude people who actually were abused as children into thinking that you understand, that you were there, that, like you, they could maybe transcend their upbringing and become a success.

Here's a thread about the debacle. Most people are rightfully annoyed about Frey, but there are a few who see "gray" areas. What is this obsession with seeing gray areas everywhere? How about I take a "gray area" approach to gray areas themselves and decide I'm not really sure you can find gray areas in every situation? Maybe you can, maybe you can't—golly, who knows!? I used to buy into that, too. I used to say, "Everything isn't black and white," but that statement itself is pretty black and white, isn't it? It's like when someone says that there are no absolutes. I guess not, save for that very statement. I think you should apply the bullshit detector to the more postmodern posters. Actually, I think you should just assume that their posts are total bullshit. I'm not a cynical person, but I am skeptical. There's a considerable difference. I question things, I don't assume either way. To me, cynicism is no different from naivete: when you're naive you accept things without thinking and when you're cynical you dismiss things without thinking. Of course, there are many things you can dismiss immediately, including, but not limited to: intelligent design, politicians, "reality TV," talk radio, commercials, "infomercials," etc. But why be cynical about someone who claims to have written a memoir? Why read the first page and decide the entire book is bullshit? Maybe it isn't cynicism, but envy and a chip on the shoulder that someone's book has sold more than yours that brings you to the conclusion, after reading the first paragraph, that said book is bullshit.

I was a druggie once (still am?) but I had no desire to read Frey's book when it first came out. Obviously it wasn't anything he had written that turned me off—how would I know?—but his tough guy persona. He just seemed like he was trying way too hard. (Like King Wenclas and Neal Pollack, for example.) I had my suspicions. However, that doesn't mean I thought he was completely pulling shit out of his ass. Nor does that make that he actually did pull shit out his ass okay. I'm the first person to admit that we all lie, but that doesn't mean we should just accept it. I lie, you lie, so we should just be cool with it, then? I think a lot of people harbor latent racist impulses as well, does that make it all right? What I find so funny about postmodernists is that the "truth" is relative or doesn't exist or blah blah blah until someone lies to them, then it's an outrage.

Anyway, The Smoking Gun had their suspicions about Frey as well and they had the means to investigate his story and found that their suspicions were on to something. Good on them. And good on the journalists who are exposing "JT LeRoy" for the fraud that it is.

I do think people should be responsible for what they spend their money on. But if I sell a box and swear up and down an orange is in it and you buy it because you love oranges, take it home and find out it's actually an apple, whose responsible? I mean, cut the fucking bullshit: this was a writer claiming he had written a memoir. It was published by a major publisher. This wasn't some sketchy infomercial nonsense—if it was, then I would concede that the buyers should take responsibility for their actions. Frey and his book came in a credible package and that package was given that much more legitmacy with the Oprah plug. Frey, like "JT LeRoy" preyed upon people's empathy. They're like the "victim" who lies about being abused in order to garner sympathy and friendship from people. To excuse that kind of behavior is not merely cynical and opportunistic, it's malicious.