I've been following this controversy over James Frey's A Million Little Pieces from a distance where it's more often out-of-sight than in. But it raises two questions for me:
(1) Notwithstanding the fact that Oprah seems to have been genuinely duped, is there really much to be surprised by here? Memoir, by its very nature, is always somewhat unreliable. It relies on memory. Admittedly, there's a big distinction to be made between forgetfulness and lying. But in our modern political and economic cultures, fact and fiction seem to blend so readily in the forms of spin and marketing. Is it really a big surprise that this trend has moved into literature?
(2) Regardless of whether or not it's surprising, is it necessarily a bad thing? Have publishers, perhaps, been constrained for too long by their tradition of categorizing books into fiction or non-fiction. Is the emergence of a genre that perhaps defies convention--let's call it unreliable memoir--really a bad thing? Is it really even new?