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Fact and Fiction

Shaker Heights native James Frey rises above the controversy surrounding A Million Little Pieces in a truly Cleveland way.

Andy Netzel
Theory: Cleveland is the only place James Frey could ever come from. Just look at his story.

Guy rises from a boozing, drug-addled youth and achieves huge success after publishing a memoir. Turns out, the publishers made a controversial call in labeling it “memoir” even though, according to Vanity Fair, he asked for it to be called “fiction.” He gets ripped apart by critics and the news media. And just when most people seemingly give up on him, he comes out with a can’t-put-down, clever novel that quickly rises on the New York Times best-seller list.

Great promise, controversial call, public failure, big hopes rise anew: How many Browns teams does that sound like? Tribe? Heck, even the city followed that same path.

“Being from Cleveland, I’m used to adversity,” Frey says. “I grew up in the era of the Mistake on the Lake. Ooh, the Cuyahoga is burning. I could give a fuck. I’m proud of Cleveland. We’re a tough people. Yeah, we’ve experienced a lot of sorry and a lot of disappointment. So what? Cleveland taught me to get up off my ass and keep fighting.”

Check back for the entire story Aug. 1.

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