Lisa Kussell, a representative of writer James Frey, recently announced that Riverhead Books has canceled the author’s two-book contract. Riverhead, the imprint of Penguin Books that released Frey’s second memoir, My Friend Leonard, in June 2005, has declined to comment.
Frey’s A Million Little Pieces (Nan A. Talese, 2003), a memoir of drug and alcohol abuse and rehabilitation, was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her book club in September 2005. In January the Smoking Gun Web site published a report revealing that many of the facts in A Million Little Pieces could not be verified, initiating a firestorm of criticism of both Frey and the publishing industry.
After a second appearance on Winfrey’s television show in January in which Frey admitted to many of the accusations made by the Smoking Gun, the Los Angeles Times reported that Warner Bros. was reconsidering plans to make a movie of A Million Little Pieces, and Frey was dropped by his literary agent Kassie Evashevski of Brillstein-Grey.
Despite the controversy, the paperback edition of A Million Little Pieces (Anchor, 2005) has sold more than three million copies and remains in the number two position on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.