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The Lifespan of a Fact Paperback – February 27, 2012
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“...[H]ere is the genius of this little book, for as it progresses, D'Agata and Fingal turn everything around on us, until even our most basic assumptions are left unclear. Who says writers owe readers anything? Or that genre, such as it is, is a valid lens through which to consider literary work? ...[T]he book is "an enactment of the experience of trying to find meaning"― a vivid and reflective meditation on the nature of nonfiction as literary art.”
- David L. Ulin, L.A. Times
“Very a 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.”
- Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating and dramatic power struggle over the intriguing question of what nonfiction should, or can, be.”
- Lydia Davis
“A singularly important meditation on fact and fiction, the imagination and life, fidelity and freedom. Provocative, maddening, and compulsively readable, The Lifespan of a Fact pulses through a forest of detail to illuminate high-stakes, age-old questions about art and ethics―questions to which the book (blessedly!) provides no easy answers.”
- Maggie Nelson
“...The Lifespan of a Fact... is less a book than a knock-down, drag-out fight between two tenacious combatants, over questions of truth, belief, history, myth, memory and forgetting.”
- Jennifer McDonald, New York Times Book Review
“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....”
- Kirkus Reviews
“...Thus begins the alternately absorbing and infuriating exercise that is the book The Lifespan of a Fact, a Talmudically arranged account of the conflict between Jim Fingal, zealous checker, and John D’Agata, nonfiction fabulist, which began in 2005 and resulted in this collaboration.”
- Gideon Lewis-Kraus, New York Times Magazine
“If you like compelling, emotional stories set in wild, business-friendly locales, this book delivers.”
- Daniel Roberts, Fortune Magazine
About 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.
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Without it, I would not have considered whether essayists need to tell the truth or bend it.Read more