Friday, June 3, 2011

"The Final Testament of the Holy Bible"

For some of you, James Frey, infamous for his highly-publicized run-in with Oprah Winfrey several years ago, is scum.  Some people have a real problem getting beyond the items he made up and put forth as fact in his "memoir" A Million Little Pieces.  

Well, time to get over it, people.  He was a scapegoat. The truth is, plenty of writers, before and after Frey, did exactly the same thing.  A few were found out; most, I suspect, weren't, and contend to this day everything in their memoirs really happened.

If you haven't figured this out yet, I'm a BIG fan of Frey.  BIG.  In Oprah's last full week of shows in late May, Frey appeared on two of them.  The most controversial interviewee ever to appear on "Oprah" confessed he got caught up in the excitement of his first book getting published, and he admits to making grave mistakes in presenting pieces of it as fact when they were fiction.  Case closed.  From the beginning, I thought there was nothing to forgive.  A Million Little Pieces is an exceptional book, and Frey is an exceptional writer.  Let's move on.  

Frey's latest novel, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, was released recently, and it's a doozie.  Many will stand up and take note of it--if not become immediately offended--from its title alone.  I just finished reading it this morning, and I was impressed.  Very impressed.  VERY IMPRESSED.

The style of Frey's writing is different from his other books, although he's still done away with most conventions, like quotation marks, dashes, etc.  I like that about Frey.  He makes language work for him.  He controls language; language doesn't control him.  I know his style angers purists, who find his use of English arrogant.  But the whole point of language is to communicate, and, believe me, quotation marks or not, Frey communicates.  His writing is pared down and eminently understandable.  I suspect a fifth or sixth grader would understand Testament.

Why do I want you to read this book?  Well, first, because my blog is about working to lift the experience of being gay, and you will be lifted when you read Frey describe throughout the novel how badly gay and lesbian people are treated in our modern society at the hands of Christian conservatives, and how they should be treated instead.  Frey gets it in ways few others do.  We get it.  Frey gets it.  He's a supporter, believe me.  You will respect him for his views on gay people.

Second, because I wanted to write a post about how Testament made me feel, but I'd rather you read the book and decide for yourself how you feel afterward.

In closing, I say this.  Be prepared.  Frey turns the concept of organized religion on its head.  Not God, organized religion.  And I believe organized religion needs to be turned on its head, because of how many of us were raised to accept it from day one, without the chance to ask our own questions and make up our own minds about what we believe and what we don't believe.  And because of what's been done in the name of God for centuries.

Be warned, this book will be blasphemous for many readers.  It could make you very uncomfortable.  It could make you nod in acknowledgement.  It could upset the apple cart of what you've believed to be true for perhaps your entire life.  It will force you to think about your own relationship to religion and to God.  And, I believe, it will teach you something.

I challenge you to read James Frey's The Final Testament of the Holy Bible.  I ask that you be open to what he has to say.  I promise, you will come away changed, one way or the other.


(By the way, the hardcover edition of Frey's self-published, limited edition book is expensive--$50 U.S. or Canadian.  Perhaps that's because only 10,000 copies were made.  I bought the ebook version for a fifth of that price.  Worth every penny.)


  1. You loose your time and your vital energy when you discuss religion. A belivier is not exactly a man in the narrow way. Sometimes a belivier is a fantic. And every fantic deserves compassion. God is completely tired of his creature. I don't know the writer or the book but I'm sure that each word against the plage of prejudice is always welcome. It's time love ourselves whosover we can be and never to hate in the name of GOD. It belongs to the past. It is old fashioned. It has been a pitty since long time. AA

  2. Sounds like another interesting read to add to my list. I'll have to try and find time this summer! I do like reading about religion from a historical or cultural perspective, but I'm not keen on authors that intentionally try to push people's religious hot buttons. I also dislike the use of religious symbols for decoration or shock effect. For example, Buddha statuettes or crucifixes are not always appropriate for "themed" stores and restaurants. Cultural sensitivity is still important in the 21st century. If we want religious people to treat gay or non-believers with respect, it is a good idea to set an example of how tolerance works. That being said, authors should still be free to express their ideas. I guess there is an important balance between tolerance and freedom of expression!

  3. @AA: You get it, AA. You really do. Your attitude toward organized religion is the same as mine. It was not my wish in this post to discuss religion--only to make readers aware of Frey's book. I got a lot from my experience with his story.

    It sure made me think about the role of religion today, and how many people in the world continue to be persecuted because of it. This has to stop. People have to stop being so arrogant because of what they believe. They have to stop thinking only they know the right way.

    @Doug: As usual, a measured and fair comment. I appreciate how sensitive and sensible you are in what you say, Doug. Again, I don't disagree with any of it, but I'm certainly grateful for the freedom of expression we enjoy in this country, and for the opportunity a writer like Frey has to share his ideas with others. Of course, we can always take or leave it, but, at the very least, I think we should be exposed to it.

    Many thanks to both of you for your comments.