Never judge a book by its cover. That's the truism you hear when it comes to literature--and everything else for that matter. But, for now, let's stick with books.
It may not be right to judge a book by its cover, but is it okay to judge a book by its backstory?
Last year, there was some serious buzz going on about a book called I Am Number Four. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the cover (what was that truism I just mentioned?). I found out the author, Pittacus Lore, was really a pseudonym. For James Frey, the A Million Little Pieces guy, the one who got browbeaten by Oprah for passing his fictionalized book off as a memoir. Yeah, that guy.
Still, I was interested and put the book on my wish list, even mentioning it in my Wish List Wednesday meme. I mean, if the guy was writing straight-up fiction, rather than hoodwinking readers with a B.S. autobiography, I figured it was worth giving a chance. I read A Million Little Pieces, after all, and it wasn't terrible--not great, but not terrible.
But, I haven't read the book yet, nor have I seen the movie based on it, and I probably never will. Why?
I read an article in New York Magazine titled, "James Frey's Fiction Factory," which really irked me. Among the more displeasing realities behind the creation of this book: James Frey didn't even write it, so much as he came up with the story idea and commissioned an aspiring young author to pen the manuscript. That's not such a bad thing on its own, but the young man Frey recruited was coerced into signing a contract that forbade him from revealing himself as having anything to do with the book, and the other stipulations seemed outrageous (you can see a copy of a contract the article's author received).
That sounds fucking shady, man. There's even more disreputable details behind the making of I Am Number Four and how James Frey's cynical, cash-grab enterprise operates. What it all adds up to is the book scratched off my wish list--and I'll be damned if I sit down to watch the movie, either.
So, I ask you: am I unreasonable in dismissing this book entirely without having read it? Heck, I'm basically swearing off anything associated with James Frey, too. Am I wrong, or are you also fed up with Frey?
I'm interested in hearing you think of this book and my opinion on it. Also, are there any books you refuse to read?