The Lifespan of a Fact

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

The Lifespan of a Fact

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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.

Additional Information

Author John D'Agata / Jim Fingal
Publisher W.W. Norton
Page Count 128pp
Publication Size 7 x 9
Publication Notes trade paperback, two-color throughout
Publication Date February 27, 2012
ISBN 978-0393340730

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