The recent "60 Minutes" story on Three Cups of Tea co-author Greg Mortenson sparked an avalanche of online interest. The segment, which aired on Sunday, raised questions as to whether Mortenson fabricated or exaggerated significant portions of his best-selling memoir about building schools in the Middle East.
Mortenson says he stands by the book. However, many Web searchers are already lumping him in with three infamous writers who took liberties with the truth. Following the expose, online lookups for James Frey (author of A Million Little Pieces), Stephen Glass (former writer for The New Republic and Rolling Stone), and Jayson Blair (former writer for the New York Times) all surged. Here's a look what those writers are up to now.
In 2003, James Frey (pictured above) released A Million Little Pieces, his memoir of drug addiction and recovery. It sold millions of copies, earned inclusion into Oprah's book club, and helped turn Frey into one of the hottest young writers in America. But then it was revealed that a significant amount of the book was fabricated, and Frey's life quickly took a turn for the worse.
Frey has (wisely) moved on from the pseudo-memoir genre into pure fiction. In 2009, he formed Full Fathom Five, a publishing company specializing in young adult novels. The company had a big win with the "I Am Number Four" series (one of which was turned into a poorly received film). Frey co-authored those books with Jobie Hughes.
On his own, he wrote Bright Shiny Morning, a novel. Publisher's Weekly said it's "a train wreck of a novel, but it's un-put-downable, a real page-turner--in what may come to be known as the Frey tradition." Long story short, Frey landed on his feet after finding his true home in straight-up fiction.
Cast your gaze back to the early age of the Internet, when fact checking involved more than a few web searches. Journalist Stephen Glass worked for the highly respected magazine The New Republic. He wrote fabulous and hilarious reports on everything from Young Republicans gone wild to an incredible tale of a teenage hacker hired by the United States government.
Amazing stories, but they weren't true. And when they were discovered, the bottom quickly fell out for Glass. Disgrace and depression quickly took hold. A film, Shattered Glass, starring Hayden Christensen, was released in 2003 to strong reviews. Glass described watching the film as very difficult.
Glass has largely stayed out of the public eye. He wrote a novel called The Fabulist, but it failed to garner much attention (or sales). According to various sources on the Web, Glass went to law school at Georgetown following the scandal and applied to join the bar in California and New York. According to Vanity Fair, Glass also did some "first-person storytelling sketches with the L.A.-based comedy troupe Un-Cabaret."
The one-time reporter for the New York Times was in a heap of trouble after he was found to have fabricated quotes and plagiarized from other sources.
Blair was dismissed by the Times, and the paper called the scandal "a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper." Not surprisingly, Blair left the journalism field, and tried other ventures.
A few years ago, Blair became a "certified life coach" in Northern Virginia. According to his official site, he specializes in "career assessment, attention deficit disorder, pervasive developmental disorders, mood disorders and substance abuse disorders."
(Author James Frey listens during an interview before a book signing in New York, Tuesday May 14, 2008.: Bebeto Matthews/AP)