James Frey takes on God, publishing with new book

LOS ANGELES Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:04pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Author James Frey, whose "A Million Little Pieces" hit bestseller lists and courted controversy, again stirred the publishing world on Monday with the announcement of a new religious novel and plans to sell it via an art gallery.

"The Final Testament of the Holy Bible" tells the story of a second coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah to millions of Christians but just plain Ben Jones to family and friends

Ben, whose real name is Zion Avrohom, is a hard-drinking man who lives in a dirty apartment in The Bronx, New York. He smokes dope and has sex with women and men.

His story is told through the point-of-views of family, friends and followers, and it looks at questions of faith and Christianity in today's modern world.

Unlike most high-profile authors who sell their work via traditional publishing houses, Frey is joining a league of authors releasing their work in new ways, and he has teamed with New York-based Gagosian Gallery to distribute it.

Gagosian, which has 11 galleries worldwide and publishes fine-art books, will release a limited number of physical copies, as well as digital versions online.

The book will have U.S. print run of 10,000 copies packaged in leatherette slipcases with a cover image by artist Gregory Crewdson. Another 1,000 collectors' editions will be signed and numbered by Frey.

The book will be released on the Christian holy day of Good Friday, April 22, and can be bought at the Gagosian Shop in New York and online at various websites. A digital version will be available for iPads and other devices.

Frey became a publishing sensation after the 2003 release of "A Little Million Pieces." It was initially billed as a memoir of his time spent dealing with drug and alcohol dependency, and it wowed readers with its sense of realism.

But the book was later exposed for embellishing fact with fiction, and Frey ran afoul of Oprah Winfrey who had supported his work through her popular book club.

Frey has published other titles including "My Friend Leonard" and "Bright Shiny Morning." His publishing company, Full Fathom Five, is responsible for the "I Am Number Four" book series that was the basis for a recent Hollywood film.

Frey also writes about art and has published texts for catalogs from artists Richard Prince, Damien Hirst, Ed Ruscha and Richard Phillips.

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Dean Gooodman)

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