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Fact and fiction by Rushdie and Frey

August 5, 2008 |  1:18 pm


Salman Rushdie has threatened to sue the publishers of a new tell-all book by one of the officers who guarded him during the fatwa. "He is portraying me as mean, nasty, tight-fisted, arrogant and extremely unpleasant," Rushdie told The Guardian. "In my humble opinion I am none of these." He disputes many of the anecdotes in the book, (entitled, somewhat confusingly, "On Her Majesty's Service") maintaining that it is "absurd the idea that they would lock me in a cupboard and go to the pub," and that the "idea of them raiding my friend's wine cellars then me asking them to pay for this is completely fictitious." Rushdie has a clear idea about what is fact and what is fiction.

James Frey does too, but it's very different. On the occasion of "Bright Shiny Morning" being published in England, Frey talks to the Times of London:

I wrote the first one, and it was a bestseller. It was doing well even before Oprah. No one believed I could do it again, but I did it again [with 'My Friend Leonard']. I’m in conflict with what writing is, in conflict with what literature is, in conflict with what people’s acceptable standards are. In conflict with the idea of what fiction and non-fiction is, or are. There are things that will play themselves out. I’m not done with twisting the lines of fact or fiction. I’m not finished with that issue by any stretch of the imagination. There isn’t a great deal of difference between fact and fiction, it’s just how you choose to tell a story.

Frey's next book will be about a Messiah figure, tentatively titled "The Final Testament of the Bible." 

Carolyn Kellogg

Salman Rushdie, left, photo by Liz O. Baylen for the LA Times. Right: James Frey, photo by George Ducker for the LA Times