The Lifespan of a Fact (PagePerfect NOOK Book) by John D'Agata, Jim Fingal | | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
The Lifespan of a Fact (PagePerfect NOOK Book)

The Lifespan of a Fact (PagePerfect NOOK Book)

5.0 2
by John D'Agata, Jim Fingal
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An essayist (D’Agata) and his exasperated fact-checker (Fingal) debate the line between art and reality in this inventive fencing match. The text reproduces D’Agata’s article (published in The Believer after another magazine killed it) about a teenager who leapt to his death from a Las Vegas hotel (an expanded version became the book About a Mountain), Fingal’s Talmudic fact-checking commentary (reflected in the book’s equally Talmudic design), and the authors’ barbed e-exchanges on everything from the number of strip clubs in Vegas to the origins of tae kwon do and the existence of D’Agata’s mother’s cat. Invoking poetic “rhythm” and “emotional truth,” D’Agata cheerfully admits to embroidering the story with factoids; meanwhile, Fingal’s efforts to verify them, which required seven years and the help of medical journals, academic linguists, satellite photos, and field research, get wrapped up in their own crazed erudition and nit-picking while opening a fascinating window into the fact-checker’s ingenious craft. In their lively, labyrinthine argument, Fingal seems the dogged conscience to D’Agata’s preening writerly ego—until Fingal realizes there may not be a reliable factual record to check. Very à propos in our era of spruced-up autobiography and fabricated reporting, this is a whip-smart, mordantly funny, thought-provoking rumination on journalistic responsibility and literary license. Agent: Matt McGowan, Frances Goldin Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
A riveting essay delving into the arcane yet entertaining debate within the writing community over the relationship between truth and accuracy when writing creative nonfiction. In 2003, D'Agata (Creative Writing/Univ. of Iowa; About a Mountain, 2010, etc.) wrote an essay that was rejected by the commissioning magazine for "factual inaccuracies." That essay, which became the basis for About a Mountain, was eventually accepted by The Believer. The editors asked their fact checker, Fingal, to wade into the piece, red pen in hand, but they offered some important advice: "John is a different kind of writer, so you are going to encounter some irregularities in the project. Just keep your report as thorough as possible and we'll comb through it later." The two men spent seven years wallowing in the murky waters surrounding esoteric literary questions such as, how important are memory and imagination in writing literary or creative nonfiction? Just how far can an author go when altering the facts for literary effect, and still be writing the Truth? What constitutes fabrication? At one point, D'Agata vented his frustration at Fingal's refusing to acknowledge the differences between the techniques of journalism and creative nonfiction. "I am tired of this genre being terrorized by an unsophisticated reading public that's afraid of accidentally venturing into terrain that can't be footnoted and verified by seventeen different sources," he writes. The authors present the narrative in a question-and-answer format with sections of the original essay under scrutiny reprinted on the center of the page, allowing readers to understand the back-and-forth conversation between D'Agata and Fingal. The book will not appeal to general readers, but it will be eagerly devoured and loudly discussed by creative-nonfiction writers and readers who thrive on books about books.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393344363
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/27/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
505,882
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >