Monday, March 19, 2012

“Creative” Writing

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.

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