Jonah Lehrer admitted to fabricating Bob Dylan quotes for his book Imagine, and then lying to a reporter about it. Today Lehrer resigned from his position as a staff writer at The New Yorker and the publisher has halted all sales of his book. The situation once again brings up the question of truth in nonfiction: how much should readers trust authors? Are we always owed the absolute truth, even at the expense of creativity? Where do we draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not?
These questions were all central to the debate between writer and fact checker in John D’Agata and Jim Fingal’s The Lifespan of a Fact, of which we offer two different takes. Lee Gutkind’s piece is here and Ander Monson’s essay is here.
Several of our favorite authors, including Janet Fitch and Seth Greenland, sat down with us recently to give their takes on truth in nonfiction.