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.
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.