About a Mountain is an essay-like book-length narrative published in 2010 by American author-essayist John D’Agata. At 240 pages long, D’Agata tells the story of himself in Las Vegas, following a case of a nuclear-waste storage plan by the government on Yucca Mountain. The initial interest is purely investigational, but it soon turns into a very personal mystery involving a boy who jumped off a hotel tower that D’Agata believes he conversed with before the act of suicide.
John D’Agata was born in 1975 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He has published six non-fiction novels and several other books, some of which include The Next American Essay, The Lost Origins of the Essay, and The Lifespan of a Fact. D’Agata studied at Deep Springs College, a school in eastern California, and later went on to move to Iowa City where he obtained an MFA in poetry. He currently lives in Iowa City where he teaches non-fiction writing at the University of Iowa.
D’Agata’s writing is often described as an essayistic-style narrative, blurring the lines between fiction and non-fiction. His work is characterized by its heavy focus on detail, as he carefully constructs his stories to provide readers with a vivid landscape of the events that are unfolding. His narrative is filled with various anecdotes and stories of the people he meets, as well as his own personal reflections that give a sense of intimacy and emotion to his writing. D’Agata’s writing is often praised for its ability to capture the reader’s imagination and create a sense of empathy for the characters. Throughout About a Mountain, D’Agata weaves a story that explores the complexities of life, the human condition, and how people cope with tragedy.
Currently, About a Mountain holds a 3.77-star rating on Goodreads from over one thousand ratings and is highly praised for its notable tone and clever composition of words. The book follows the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” format and is categorized as non-fiction. About a Mountain is part of the “100 Best Nonfiction Books Written by the New York Times Magazine, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a New York Times Editors' Choice”.