Today’s Observer has a story on disgraced memoirist James Frey who, remarkably enough, just sold a new novel to HarperCollins. Last week, Eric Simonoff, Frey’s swashbuckling agent, handed the big scoop to the Wall Street Journal — which more or less equates to a big honking F-U to the New York Times. “The New York Times has never been a friend to James Frey,” Simonoff sniffed to the Observer. Um, that’s putting it rather mildly: In his year-end column, Frank Rich grouped Frey with 2006 “villains” Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, saying, “It was a thrill beyond schadenfreude to watch them be soundly thrashed and humiliated for their sins.”
Still, one might argue that it’s not exactly a newspaper’s job to be buds with its subjects, and furthermore, who does Simonoff think he’s representing? Brad Pitt? But Frey does seem to have friends at the Observer, which ran several “their side of the story”–type pieces after A Million Little Pieces was discovered to be as fake as Pam Anderson’s rack, with plenty of defense-line quotes from Nan Talese. And back in 2003, the Observer crowed, “Meet the New Staggering Genius,” comparing Frey to Dave Eggers and a young Charles Bukowski. Ah, we were all so innocent then.