To be honest, after reading Lauren Slater’s Lying, I don’t think there will be another piece of self-called creative nonfiction work that I will consider fiction just because the author adjusts the way he/she presents his/her information to convey a truth they believe in. I mean, if Slater got away with what she did and still have Lying be considered a memoir, then why can’t D’Agata’s work be considered nonfiction? Moreover, unlike Slater, D’Agata points out most, if not all, pieces of reality that he adjusted––that in itself is nonfiction, isn’t it? If Slater got away with leaving the line between metaphors and reality blurry, then how is it fair that we call D’Agata’s piece of work fiction when he reveals what we call “factual truth” after telling us his story?
If D’Agata had not included the Notes at the back of the book, personally, I honestly would not know whether to consider About A Mountain to be fiction or nonfiction. The difference between About A Mountain and Lying is that Lying is directly about Slater’s personal life, thoughts, emotions, experiences etc., while About A Mountain is about a political/environmental/social issue. Slater is conveying a subjective truth that is directly linked to her personal perspective of the world, while D’Agata is conveying a subjective truth through an incident that concerns the news and the government and real people in Las Vegas and so on. Therefore it is safer for D’Agata to include the Notes he wrote at the end of his book. Slater, on the other hand, does not have to validate her own personal experiences and emotions (when you say you’re upset or confused or happy, no one tells you to prove that you’re upset or confused or happy)––either you trust her, or you don’t.