For those of you more than casually interested in the journalistic considerations inherent in the ongoing saga of monologist Mike Daisey vs. the truth, the surprisingly compelling non-fiction book, The Lifespan of a Fact, might be worth a read.
In it, a doggedly earnest young magazine fact-checker named Jim Fingal goes mano a mano with the essayist John D’Agata over D’Agata’s casual approach to matters of actual fact in a non-fiction piece he wrote about a Las Vegas suicide.
The book consists of 122 pages of an often acerbic e-mail dialog between Fingal and D’Agata, interspersed with excerpts from the essay in dispute.
“What emerges,” per publisher W.W. Norton’s blurb, “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.”
I well recognize that this sort of thing is not everyone’s cuppa tea; one man’s “compelling” is another man’s meh, but you’ll know after a few pages whether or not it’s something you’ll want to stick with to the end. Spoiler Alert: the writers do not — en fin — resolve the issue for you; the work is, as blurbed, a meditation from which you may draw your own conclusions.