(how long can this go on?!?), a great essay by Emily Carter, The Lie Behind the Lies:
In every recovery group that I participated in, at Hazelden and elsewhere, there was a type of young man who tended to do a lot of what in recovery jargon is called 'maximizing.' Everyone is familiar with the minimizing, otherwise known as denial--the cirrhosis patient who can't understand why she's hospitalized, all she ever drank was a little wine after dinner. The maximizers I encountered went the other way: They'd bluster about having snorted mountains of cocaine, smoked rocks the size of glaciers, shot up six thousand dollars a day. All were wanted by the law, you bet. Generally speaking, maximizers were young, affluent males.
This is no news, really. Any barmaid will tell you that men can mythologize themselves and each other like nobody's business. Really, though, these young men are simply protecting their soft centers with layer upon layer of braggadocio, like drowning out Roy Orbison with the Scarface soundtrack. But to write from this point of self-ignorance is to send out a false report. Frey clearly wanted to write not of, but as, the person he wanted to be. His agenda was to glamorize himself, make himself look clear-eyed and potent at the expense of other people. Frey's mistake is one that all writers, even good ones, make when they're starting out. The self-glorifying or blame-dodging impulse is easy to spot. 'No more misunderstood waifs!' I remember one instructor yelling in a writing workshop. And yes, he was yelling at me. I was 18 years old, and if anything I had written then were to be published now I would use it as a valid excuse for a major relapse.
Carter is the author of the really excellent story collection Glory Goes and Gets Some, which I highly recommend; I don't usually read/like story collections, but this one has the pleasures of a very good novel.
(Thanks to Sarah for the link.)