James Frey, semi-memoirist and Oprah antagonist, is back and better than ever. Or weirder than ever. Frey is teaming up with Larry Gagosian to publish a new novel, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible. Gagosian will print a scant 11,000 copies and Frey will self-publish the book online. Do real publishers still not want anything to do with Frey after the Million Little Pieces debacle, even though his last book, Bright Shiny Morning, did pretty well? Or maybe the book isn’t…up to par. I haven’t read the thing, but as Frey told Page Six, it’s supposed to be “a theoretical third volume of the Bible — there was the Old, there was the New, and this is the Final.” That’s a pretty grand vision, especially when your Jesus is an alcoholic bachelor who sleeps with prostitutes.
The protagonist, Ben Jones, is a drunk who impregnates a prostitute, smokes pot, and fools around with men for extra shock value. He’s also the Messiah, duh. I think the book’s aiming for some overarching point about the malevolent influence of religion: Ben tells his disciples that faith is a “means to rationalize more evil in this world than anything in history.” The book will be released on Good Friday, in case there’s any chance of someone missing the point.
As for his method of publishing, Frey said that “I tried to write a radical book. I’m releasing it in a radical way. Never again will somebody release my work in a way that doesn’t make me comfortable.” You can’t blame the guy. No one really knows what happened with A Million Little Pieces, the book that made him a pariah. But Frey has said in interviews that the decision to publish the book as a memoir instead of a novel, thereby claiming 100% accuracy, was not his. He became a national punching bag during the kerfuffle, and you can understand why he’d rather steer clear of traditional publishing either way.
So. The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, out April 22nd. I wonder if Oprah knows about this.