Though listed as a reference book, The Lifespan of a Fact
is really a heated and often hilarious battle between essayist John D'Agata and his fact checker at the Believer
, Jim Fingal. John's flippant responses frustrate Jim so much that he retaliates by, among other things, taking stabs at the former's mom (and perhaps even quits the editing biz — his bio notes that he went on to become a software engineer).
One could probably learn some tips about fact checking and essay writing in The Lifespan of a Fact. But ultimately, the book serves as an intense demonstration of the difficulty of accurately representing any event and a meditation on how much fidelity to fact can be sacrificed for poetics.