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Fiction in fact

My name is Jason Smith, and this is my memoir.

After I was elected President at the age of 21, I decided to take some time for myself and traveled around the world on the back of a camel until I settled back in McDuffie County and focused on basket weaving and knitting.

Believe that?

Then does James Frey have the book for you.

Now, I'm not about to say that Mr. Frey's A Million Little Pieces hasn't profoundly affected people across the nation - especially after Oprah gave it her endorsement, which is worth millions in sales.

But the hubbub in the last few weeks about how far authors can stretch the truth is hard to ignore. For those of you that missed it, the book is about Mr. Frey's travails as a drugged-out criminal. In it, he delves into the gory details of various arrests and the deaths of several friends, including a female pal that was killed in a train wreck.

But there's a problem: much of the details are either a) untrue or b) unverifiable, according to various sources, including

So what does Mr. Frey - and Oprah - have to say now? Not a lot, other than memoirs aren't supposed to be held to the same standards as non-fiction writings or newspaper articles. Mr. Frey attributes the problem passages in the book - which he says are less than 5 percent of the total page count - to his memory that has been clouded by years of alcohol and drug abuse. Plus, he said, the whole point of a memoir is that it's a subjective retelling of events, and he can't believe his "story" has come under such scrutiny. And, furthermore, he's taking his ball and going home because if he can't play by his rules, no one can.

OK, I added that last part, but it's true. Mr. Frey has handled questions with a "because I could" tone. Like, I've said before: Anytime the answer is "because I can," it probably means you shouldn't do what you are doing.

Anyway, next time you see me, it's "Mr. President" to you. After all, that's my memoir, and I'm sticking to it.

Meanwhile, there's a soldier in paradise that has McDuffie County in his heart. James Moss, who left the area 16 years ago to pursue a career in the military, called from Hawaii last week to renew his subscription to The Mirror. He still has plenty of family in the area, and I hope they all know that Mr. Moss - and every other soldier - has the support and prayers of McDuffie County.

And finally, congratulations are in order for my sister, who is planning to get married later this year. I'm happy for Megan and Aaron and wish them the best of luck in the future.

The wedding does bring up a question: Do my parents retain custody of the furry grandchild? Probably.

Web posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006


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