Good stuff online: SMASH recaps and the heroic fact-checker

February 26, 2012

I’m willing to bet that watching Smash, the NBC sitcom about the making of a Broadway musical, will never be more entertaining than Rachel Shukert’s recaps for New York magazine’s online entity, Vulture.

Meanwhile, the New York Times today publishes two lengthy stories about this new book, The Lifespan of a Fact, which consists entirely of the written exchanges between John D’Agata, a University of Iowa writing teacher and freelance essayist, and Jim Fingal, the young intern charged with fact-checking a piece about Las Vegas for the literary magazine The Believer. Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s piece in the magazine is quite good, but not nearly as thorough, entertaining, or devastating to D’Agata as Jennifer B. McDonald’s front-page take-down in the Times Book Review. The publication of this idiosyncratic 123-page exercise in journalistic shop-talk and ethical studies instantly creates a new literary villain (D’Agata’s comments are immaculately specious) and a new hero (although he’s apparently now designing software, Jim Fingal has earned a special place as the Heroic Fact-Checker of our time). Intriguing author photo — can you guess which guy is which?

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