20 April 2012

Review: The Lifespan of a Fact

The Lifespan of a Fact
The Lifespan of a Fact by John D'Agata

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely one of the more fascinating books I've read in some time. John D'Agata wrote a piece about a suicide in Las Vegas, and the magazine that was printing it had the general fact-check go through, and it turns out D'Agata had misrepresented, misquoted, and otherwise inaccurately portrayed a lot of what had occurred. He did so out of a more artistic license, insisting he was not a journalist and thus wasn't to be held to those standards, but his fact checker kept going anyway. The book is the article in question interspersed with the fact checker's notes and some back-and-forth between the fact checker and D'Agata.

This was especially interesting in light of the This American Life piece on Foxconn and Apple, where the creator of that segment did a similar thing. It's very interesting to see D'Agata justify his actions, and the fact checker's almost over-the-top diligence in trying to confirm what's being written. It made me both admire and weep for the state of journalism currently.

Definitely worth reading for a variety of reasons, as it's informative, relevant, and entertaining at the same time. There's a lot to chew on from this one.

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