In the New York Observer (“Reconstructing Frey“), Leon Neyfakh examines James Frey’s new book deal in the context of his agent’s efforts to make the name “James Frey” fall more trippingly from our lips.
Thus Mr. Simonoff and HarperCollins took the first step in what will likely be a long, painstaking campaign to rehabilitate the career of James Frey. Since the deal was announced, Mr. Simonoff has been driving a publicity blitz designed to emphasize the enthusiasm with which the publishing industry greeted the news of Mr. Frey’s comeback effort. Mr. Simonoff’s goal, in the words of one top agent, has been "to say that he’s not tainted. To legitimize him and legitimize the book and to remove any stigma around it by saying that all of New York publishing was hungry to see it."
Long story short: the agent didn’t lie, exactly, but he may have shaded the truth in regard to publishers’ interest in the new book, Bright Shiny Morning. My favorite line comes from an unnamed “publishing executive”:
"It’s a bit of a fig leaf," he went on, referring to Mr. Simonoff’s efforts to suggest that all is forgiven with Mr. Frey. Still, "it may have the virtue of being true, which is not a bad thing. This is publishing. We hire the handicapped."