Saturday, February 02, 2019

John D'Agata and Jim Fingal, "The Lifespan of a Fact"

Authors: John D’Agata (essay author), Jim Fingal (fact checker)

Title: “The Lifespan of a Fact

Publication:  New York: W. W. Norton Company, 2012, 124 pages, paper, 9 chapters, ISBN 978-0-393-34073-0

This is a most unusual book, another innovation like Thomas Carlyle’s “Sartor Resartus” (Dec. 2, 2013), a meta-book.

On 2003 Harper’s magazine approached author John D’Agata (“Halls of Fame”) to write a lengthy piece motivated by the suicide of a teenager (Levi Presley) by jumping in Las Vegas. It was not accepted, but another periodical, “The Believer” assigned a fact-checker, Jim Fingal, to examine the piece.  The piece (“What Happens There”) would eventually morph into D’Agata’s “About a Mountain” (concerning the storing of radioactive waste in Yucca Mountain).  The latter topic actually fits into an early incident in my novel “Angel’s Brother”.

So this new compendium book presents the essay, with continuous fragments centered on each page, surrounded by Fingal’s extensive fact checking remarks.  So this is a “book about a book” or a “book about an essay”.  Imagine this being done to one of my longer blog postings.  Harvard undergrad John Fish (previous post) should find this interesting to read.

The meta-book has become a Broadway Play, at Studio 54 (with Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones, Bobby Cannavale), but the show has closed.  I was in New York Jan 7-9 but to go to another event and didn’t have time to see it.  I wonder if it will become an arthouse film.  Actually, we need a documentary on Yucca Mountain, too.
The New York Times has an analysis (2012) by Jennifer B. McDonald, "In the Details". And Alice Gregory writes "Truth and Consequences" for NPR in 2012. 

Baseball player Bryce Harper has a home near Las Vegas.  We’re wondering where he will sign for 2019.

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