Speaking of missionary memoirs, Christopher Bigelow has published a very fine personal essay over at Popcorn Popping. Despite my cheeky subject line, it's a revealing read and you should check it out.


Why do they call it Popcorn Popping? It comes from a favorite Mormon children's song, "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree."
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Frey in hell

            

Yes, we all seem to be more up in arms today about James Frey and his partially made-up memoir than we are about domestic wiretaps, freedom of information in China, and terrorists taking power in Palestine. And it makes sense to me why.

Countless hordes of people feel like they were lied to by James Frey. The reason this is more upsetting than being lied to by the President and his cronies—which happens and continues to happen on a regular basis—is that we're used to being lied to by politicians. We may be appalled by it, but we take this as expected behavior.

Writers, however, are a breed apart. Yes, their main job is to entertain us, but when they're doing their job well they are saying something true to us about what it means to be human, something that resonates in us, the readers, to our very cores. Thousands upon thousands of people felt that James Frey had told them something very resonant and true about their own lives, only now it's come out that what he said was, in many ways, made up. Of course people are upset. Of course they feel betrayed. On some level it must feel like finding out your spouse has been leading a double life.

I feel betrayed as well, but not because I read and believed A Million Little Pieces. I have not read the book. I feel betrayed as a writer on behalf of my profession. James Frey's responsibility as a writer was to tell the truth, and he failed to live up to that responsibility.

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About the Book

What happens when an ambivalent young Mormon missionary is pushed to the limit in a challenge to prove his faith? Hint: the outcome is explosive. The Accidental Terrorist is the long-awaited memoir from Hugo and Nebula Award–nominated author William Shunn, based on his popular podcast. Available now from Sinister Regard!