Gilbert Cruz
January 13, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

After trying to put personal demons to rest with two memoirs, James Frey is discovering that the past is never dead. Last week, the Smoking Gun website released a report accusing Frey of exaggerating and fabricating significant parts of his hit book A Million Little Pieces, the devastating look at addiction that Oprah Winfrey tapped to relaunch her book club last September. Among its accusations: There are no police records to support Frey’s claim that he served a three-month jail term in 1992 and was a fugitive in three states.

A source close to the Frey camp says, ”What’s being pointed out is tangential at best to what makes the book so powerful.” The source allows that perhaps Pieces should have included a disclaimer like this one in Frey’s follow-up, My Friend Leonard: ”Some sequences and details of events have been changed.”

Other than a missive on his website slamming the report as ”the latest attempt to discredit me,” Frey, his editor, and lawyer were mum as of EW’s deadline. (Pieces’ publishers, Doubleday and Anchor Books, released statements supporting him.)

Oprah’s Book Club won’t take a hit from the revelations. But some of Frey’s other projects — he penned the first draft of a Pieces adaptation in development at Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B — might. In the meantime, as he plans his first novel, Frey finds himself living a writer’s worst nightmare: His credibility is in question and he’s messed with Oprah.

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