The Ethics of Publishing a Liar's Memoir
I've been quietly following the James Frey flap for a couple of weeks now. This is the guy who got Oprah's endorsement for his "memoir" of addiction, jail time, and so forth (I will not make it easier to locate by naming the book here)--only it turned out to be fiction.
When this was revealed, Oprah first defended him for creating a gripping read that addressed deep issues, etc. The other day, she snapped out of the trance and tore him apart on camera.
Meanwhile, the author claims he originally submitted it as fiction, the publisher--no tiny little outfit but Doubleday, one of the biggest in the nation--first called in creative nonfiction and when that didn't fly, said that Frey had hoodwinked them.
It would be very illuminating to see Frey's original book proposal and see where the truth lies. Meanwhile, the thing stinks.
Best commentary I've seen on it is from Pat Holt of Holt Uncensored--she is always worth reading.
As of this writing, she hasn't archived the column yet, but she has some great suggestions: