Oprah/Frey, Round Two

Whatever James Frey’s reasons were to ignore the advice of friends and lawyers and return to the Oprah Show five years after his famous tongue-lashing, the appearance offered him the opportunity to bring attention to his new book, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible. And that it did; the $50 print version rose to #253 from a lowly #10,286 on Amazon’s sales rankings and the $9.99 Kindle edition rose to #69.

Although the Oprah site describes the book as “the story of the Second Coming of Christ in today’s modern world — but in James’ book, Christ is a bisexual former alcoholic who lives in the Bronx and impregnates a stripper,” that description is not in the televised interview. Oprah simply says it is “controversial” because any book that uses “Bible” in the title will be. Frey says he hopes the book will “change people’s lives for the better” by getting them to “think about God differently,” making it sound tailor-made for the Oprah audience.

It was reviewed last month by Dierdre Donahue in USA Today, who offers a more nuanced plot summary,

[The Messiah Ben] goes out to heal the world one sexual encounter at a time, though sometimes with more than one partner, among them fat lonely women, self-hating gay men and crack-addicted lap dancers. When Ben and his followers gather in secret at an upstate farm, they share the love with the kind of uninhibited variety not seen since Plato’s Retreat closed.

She counsels, “Frey is yanking your chain to sell books. Already published in the UK, Testament has received some good reviews there. Probably because it confirms many nonbelievers’ conviction that much of this country is one big David Koresh/Branch Davidian nest of sects and racism.”

Few libraries own the print edition (the ebook version is not available for library lending). Those that do are showing some holds.

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