– Good question

In an essay on memoirs in the September 2008 Harper’s Magazine, Francine Prose writes:

On nearly every occasion when I’ve been invited to speak about both fiction and nonfiction writing, someone has asked my opinion of the scandalous disclosure that James Frey had fabricated sections of his memoir, A Million Little Pieces. I reply that I’m puzzled that people seem more upset by a lie about how long a writer spent in rehab than a lie about whether Saddam Hussein had access to weapons of mass destruction. Inevitably, nervous laughter ripples through the room.

In fact, I couldn’t be more serious. Each time, I find myself wondering: Why isn’t the audience talking to one another, and to me, about how, for the past eight years, our government has deceived us about matters of huge consequence–the war in Iraq, the economy, the environment, Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, real estate foreclosures, poverty, unemployment, the handling of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy?

(Incidentally, her essay is not at all a defense of Frey or Seltzer’s contraptions, which she finds “B-list” at best.)

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