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James Frey's hipster Jesus

March 15, 2011 |  8:33 am

Jamesfrey_2008

A drinking, pot-smoking bisexual Messiah who lives in the Bronx? That's the setup for the upcoming James Frey book, "The Final Testament of the Holy Bible," his version of the second coming.

Reuters reports, "'The Final Testament of the Holy Bible' tells the story of a second coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah to millions of Christians but just plain Ben Jones to family and friends. Ben, whose real name is Zion Avrohom, is a hard-drinking man who lives in a dirty apartment in the Bronx, New York. He smokes dope and has sex with women and men."

Frey is best known for his not-entirely-true memoir of addiction and recovery, "A Million Little Pieces," which was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club. When she learned of the book's fabrications -- exposed by the website The Smoking Gun -- she called Frey back on her show to demand contrition.

In 2008, Frey wrote "Bright Shiny Morning," a sprawling book about Los Angeles. The New York Times loved it. The Los Angeles Times did not.

"The Final Testament of the Holy Bible" will be published by Gagosian Gallery, an art gallery making an unusual move into publishing. Although an unusual move, this fits Frey's trajectory. He has been moving away from traditional publishing -- he's started what New York magazine calls a "fiction factory," recruiting ambitious creative-writing students out of graduate school to co-author books with his company, Full Fathom Five. His company was behind the book and movie "I Am Number Four."

And Frey, a former Angeleno who now lives in New York, has been keeping company with artists and gallerists. He has published texts for catalogs with Richard Prince, Damien Hirst and others. Cover art for "The Final Testament of the Holy Bible" is by Gregory Crewdson -- see it after the jump.

Artists Dan Colen, Richard Phillips, Richard Prince, Terry Richardson and Ed Ruscha are creating works in response to the book, which will be exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery on April 20 -- along with Frey's original manuscript printed on canvas. "The Final Testament of the Holy Bible" will officially be released April 22, Good Friday. For those who don't get the signed collector's edition (there will be 1,000), or the Crewdson cover in its leatherette slipcase (there will be 10,000), it will be available as an e-book too.

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RELATED:

The first fruit of James Frey's fiction factory

James Frey's best work?

James Frey's "Bright Shiny Morning": the reaction

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Upper photo: James Frey at the Chateau Marmont in 2008. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: James Frey's "The Final Testament of the Holy Bible." Credit: Gagosian Gallery

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