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.
This 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.