Skip to main content

Non-Fiction Book Club to Discuss – The Lifespan of a Fact by John D'Agata and Jim Fingal – Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Pollard Library Non-Fiction book club meets at 6:30pm on the first Thursday of the month. On November 1, 2012 at 6:30PM the Pollard Library Non-Fiction Book Club will discuss Lifespan of a Fact by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal.

Here’s a description from the publisher’s website:

“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.”

To get a taste of how I stand on this issue check out my recent review in Howl in Lowell. Full disclosure, D’Agata is a former professor of mine.

About the Authors:
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.

Join in on the discussion! Despite the fact that we ask you obtain your own copy of the selected title (copies available to borrow from our library system, call 978-674-4121 with your library card to request one) the Pollard Library Non-Fiction Book Club is free and open to the public. For more information or to request a ballot for upcoming titles please contact Sean Thibodeau, Community Planning Librarian or 978-674-1542.