It took author John D’Agata and fact-checker Jim Fingal five years to comb through D’Agata’s 5,000-word essay about a teenager’s suicide in Las Vegas (published in the Believer), and even more time before the two decided to capitalize on their back-and-forth, carping correspondence—it has just been released as a book, The Lifespan of a Fact. Salon’s Laura Miller writes, “the book itself is a travesty of the fact-checking process,” an “ever-burgeoning pissing match” between the wisecracking checker and the “preening and self-important” author. At the New Yorker’s Book Bench blog, New Yorker checker Hannah Goldfield takes a more sympathetic view towards Fingal: “Much of the book’s meta-text consists of Fingal’s notes, which detail his careful, often interesting research. But D’Agata’s responses are, rather than thoughtful and collaborative, hostile and delusional.” Readers can judge for themselves: An excerpt of the book is online at Harper’s website. (If anything, the book is a strong counterpoint to the fact-checking utopia detailed in John McPhee’s classic New Yorker essay “Checkpoints.”)
Six months after announcing plans to act in an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God, James Franco is already on location with co-star Tim Blake Nelson in West Virginia.
Lev Grossman writes about the chipping away of the literary canon, as classic books are judged online like rainboots or MP3 players. “We have the benefit of the 94 one-star reviews that The Great Gatsby has received on Amazon. (‘I found this book to be very boring and not very informative.’ ‘Honestly, he had it coming.’ Etc.) Not to mention the 28,966 one-star reviews it has on GoodReads.” (For more disparagement of Amazon reviews, meet Least Helpful, a blog dedicated to the site’s most useless user commentary.)
Ithys Press is releasing a limited run of James Joyce’s previously unpublished children’s story, “The Cats of Copenhagen,” which Joyce originally wrote in a letter to his four-year-old nephew. "For an adult reader (and no doubt for a very clever child),” Ithys publisher Anastasia Herbert explained, “'Cats reads as an anti-establishment text, critical of fat-cats and some authority figures, and it champions the exercise of common sense, individuality and free will."
Bookforum editor Chris Lehmann talks with Full Stop about Christopher Lasch, the state of the media, and what the Occupy movement got right.