The Lifespan of a Fact by John D'Agata

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For all its absurdity, John and Jim's war of words is a sick thrill to read ...
-NPR

Synopsis

Named a top 10 Best Book of 2012 by Slate.com

An innovative essayist and his fact-checker do battle about the use of truth and the definition of nonfiction.

How negotiable is a fact in nonfiction? In 2003, an essay by John D’Agata was rejected by the magazine that commissioned it due to factual inaccuracies. That essay―which eventually became the foundation of D’Agata’s critically acclaimed About a Mountain―was accepted by another magazine, The Believer, but not before they handed it to their own fact-checker, Jim Fingal. What resulted from that assignment was seven years of arguments, negotiations, and revisions as D’Agata and Fingal struggled to navigate the boundaries of literary nonfiction.

This book reproduces D’Agata’s essay, along with D’Agata and Fingal’s extensive correspondence. What emerges is a brilliant and eye-opening meditation on the relationship between “truth” and “accuracy” and a penetrating conversation about whether it is appropriate for a writer to substitute one for the other.

Two-color throughout
 

About John D'Agata

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John D'Agata is the author of About a Mountain, Halls of Fame and editor of The Next American Essay and The Lost Origins of the Essay. He teaches creative writing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he lives. Jim Fingal is now a software engineer and writer in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
 
Published February 27, 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company. 128 pages
Genres: Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Lifespan of a Fact
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jennifer B. Mcdonald on Feb 21 2012

...a knock-down, drag-out fight between two tenacious combatants, over questions of truth, belief, history, myth, memory and forgetting.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Alice Gregory on Mar 07 2012

For all its absurdity, John and Jim's war of words is a sick thrill to read ...

Read Full Review of The Lifespan of a Fact | See more reviews from NPR

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