The book will not appeal to general readers, but it will be eagerly devoured and loudly discussed by creative-nonfiction...

THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT

A riveting essay delving into the arcane yet entertaining debate within the writing community over the relationship between truth and accuracy when writing creative nonfiction.

In 2003, D’Agata (Creative Writing/Univ. of Iowa; About a Mountain, 2010, etc.) wrote an essay that was rejected by the commissioning magazine for “factual inaccuracies.” That essay, which became the basis for About a Mountain, was eventually accepted by The Believer. The editors asked their fact checker, Fingal, to wade into the piece, red pen in hand, but they offered some important advice: “John is a different kind of writer, so you are going to encounter some irregularities in the project. Just keep your report as thorough as possible and we’ll comb through it later.” The two men spent seven years wallowing in the murky waters surrounding esoteric literary questions such as, how important are memory and imagination in writing literary or creative nonfiction? Just how far can an author go when altering the facts for literary effect, and still be writing the Truth? What constitutes fabrication? At one point, D’Agata vented his frustration at Fingal’s refusing to acknowledge the differences between the techniques of journalism and creative nonfiction. “I am tired of this genre being terrorized by an unsophisticated reading public that’s afraid of accidentally venturing into terrain that can’t be footnoted and verified by seventeen different sources,” he writes. The authors present the narrative in a question-and-answer format with sections of the original essay under scrutiny reprinted on the center of the page, allowing readers to understand the back-and-forth conversation between D’Agata and Fingal.

The book will not appeal to general readers, but it will be eagerly devoured and loudly discussed by creative-nonfiction writers and readers who thrive on books about books.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-34073-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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