A January 12, 2006 editorial from the L.A. TIMES sums it up perfectly:
"It's hard to know which is worse: a writer who acts as though there is no distinction between a novel and a memoir, or a publisher who does not care."
But perhaps more unsettling is how more and more, it's not the content of a book that counts but rather the person who wrote it (or had it ghostwritten). What does it matter that Frey exaggerated his supposedly true experience as a drug addict and his fight for recovery and redemption (which now may all be a load of baby poo, because if he lied about being in jail, let alone events leading up to his girlfriend's suicide, then who knows if he ever was a drug addict to begin with)? It's the fact that this man (allegedly) went through this harrowing experience (poor li'l drug addict) that matters.
At least, that's what we're being told. The man experienced this, and the book is his story, his so-called emotional truth. The book itself is now secondary to the man.
And this is the reality. When celebrity pets--PETS, for God's sake--get books sold and people like Frey get away with ignoring basic facts--that a true story actually be, you know, true, and thus turn the word "memoir" into a parody of real life--there's little room left for writers who want to actually tell a story. Watch out, authors. Your jobs are being outsourced to the personality of the moment.
And what's really sad is that the public keeps lapping this up.
Someone tell me, please: what ever happened to accountability?
-- Hey, you hear the one about the publisher who didn't bother with the most basic of fact checking for a non-fiction book?
-- No, I'm afreyed not.