Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Million Little Root Canals....

Much furor has been expended over the "embellishments" of James Frey in his "memoir," "A Million Little Pieces."

For those not tuned in to All Things Oprah, a brief synopsis: Mr. Frey wrote a book detailing a horrific and harrowing experience with drug addiction. It was, fiction or not, moving to many people, including Oprah and her Harpo cronies. They selected it for her Book Club, which is pretty much the writers' equivalency to winning American Idol. Possibly better.
I've heard the author even sold the movie rights to Brad Pitt. (Paging Tyler Durden...)

Eventually, a number of discriminating readers started to question the somewhat incredulous claims made in the book. Several pilots, flight attendants and others in the airline industry said, " can't put someone on the plane who is unconscious (and bleeding and covered in bodily fluids) without a just can't do that! No one does that..."

People started asking questions. Eventually, Frey admitted the book isn't so much about fact as "impression and feeling."
see his statement from the publisher's website

Now I don't mind a little literary license, but Mr. Frey is doing the dental equivalent of shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

Read this account from a Pennsylvania dentist regarding the absurdity of the story!

While I'd been previously just irritated or amused by this whole brouhaha, I am now of the state of mind of those offended by Denmark's cartoon depictions of The Prophet. He has basically tainted the water for thousands of people who are already paranoid about dentists and now have yet another reason to avoid needed treatment. He has in effect, contributed to others' suffering. Why? Because of an impression.

Look, if you want to say, "Wow, that last exam was brutal - Professor Smith totally f---ed me up the a--!" that's fine, but if you do so in such as way as to imply that you were ACTUALLY sexually abused by your teacher, it's irresponsible.

I have treated dozens, possibly even hundreds of addicts, recovering and otherwise. When I worked with Narcotics Anonymous, I found that they were terrific patients. Right around step 7 or 8, whilst making amends, many of them decided to address long-ignored dental concerns. Transitioning back to the job market, they usually had plenty of time for visits (even a long visit with a student dentist!) and appreciated the reduced fees of being at a teaching institution. They never asked for narcotics, and despite how drug-addled some of their brains might have been, I never encountered an addict so foolish as to think that local anesthetic could get them high or cause a relapse.

I've thought about the concept of triggering our natural fears of dentists in the pursuit of art, and decided that I don't really mind that pursuit in a fictional setting. Marathon Man and Brazil are films where people are tortured by dentists for dramatic effect, while Little Shop of Horrors does so for comedic effect. But no one ACTUALLY believes that this is what will happen at the dentist any more than one fears being eaten by carnivorous plants at the flower shop.

If you need me this weekend, I'll be the one out in Market Square, burning a copy of Frey's book.