Oprah defends book selection

NEW YORK – James Frey and the publishing world can relax a little: Oprah isn’t angry.

For days, Frey has been intensely criticized – and defended – over allegations that his best-selling memoir of addiction, “A Million Little Pieces,” was far from the candid self-portrait that he, his publisher and Winfrey had claimed it to be.

But until she made a surprise call Wednesday night to CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Winfrey, who selected the book for her book club, had maintained a suspenseful silence.

Phoning in near the end of the show, on which Frey gave his first interview since the controversy broke earlier this week, she dismissed the affair as “much ado about nothing” and urged readers inspired by the book to “keep holding on.”

“What is relevant is that he was a drug addict … and stepped out of that history to be the man he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves,” Winfrey said, adding that she wanted to hear Frey’s comments before speaking to him or saying anything in public.

Frey has been under close scrutiny since The Smoking Gun (www.thesmokinggun.com), an investigative Web site, posted a story on Sunday alleging that the author had substantially fabricated his criminal record and other aspects of his past.

Winfrey’s selection last fall of “A Million Little Pieces” for her book club made the memoir a million-copy seller and Frey a hero among recovering addicts.

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