Apropos l'affaire D'Agata, I came across this amusing and illuminating bit in John McPhee's paean to fact checkers, Checkpoints, collected in the superb Silk Parachutes (FSG 2010):
In "The Third Man," in the immortal Ferris-wheel scene high above postwar Vienna, Orson Welles as Henry Lime implies that he has been selling diluted penicillin to Viennese hospitals but asks his lifelong friend Joseph Cotten if one of those little moving dots down there (one of those human beings) could really matter in the long scheme of things. On the ground, he adds:
In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.
I learned, or Richard learned - we've forgotten who learned - that Graham Greene, who wrote the screenplay of "The Third Man," only later published ther preliminary treatment as a novella, and the cuckoo-clock speech does not appear either in the novella or in the original screenplay. Greene did not write it. Orson Welles thought it up and said it.
I'm essentially unsympathetic to D'Agata's argument, as I've been to those who came before and forced the rubric "Creative Nonfiction" upon us, which continues to encourage writers to take all sorts of questionable liberties with the facts. If you want to make it up, as I've always said, write a novel. On the other hand don't - I don't need the competition.