I think of the form of the exchange between Jim and me as an exaggerated farce. […] Even though I occasionally would sling some heartache Jim’s way during the fact-checking process, I was never as assholey as the writer’s persona is in the book. But it’s that writer’s snarkiness—and the fact-checker’s eventual willingness to bite back—that makes the book kind of funny, I think. So we were trying to find a way to make a serious but rather dry issue (veracity) feel relevant and entertaining (dick jokes).
-John D’Agata, in a Q&A from the Kenyon Review
The critical reception of “The Lifespan of a Fact,” the epistolary argument between “truth” and “fact” in non-fiction, has entered its terminal phase—the revelation that the exchange itself is fictional(ized).