About a Mountain


About a Mountain

The story about the federal government's plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain and a young boy’s suicide in Las Vegas.

"Unquestionably art . . . a breathtaking piece of writing." —The New York Times Book Review

“Exquisite . . . This is what, at its best, contemporary narrative nonfiction aspires to, a story that, like the novel, operates on many levels at once. And in About a Mountain D'Agata has found a nearly perfect nexus to investigate our post-millennial concerns.” —The Los Angeles Times

“Transcendant. . . . “This is an empathetic and virtuosic performance that invites us to live more bravely with, and to think about, our uncertainties.” —Time Out New York

“It may be impossible to overstate how compelling this book is.” —The Rumpus

“Here is the literary essay raised to the highest form of art.” —Ben Marcus

About a Mountain is about language, catastrophe, communication, impending destruction, and death, but like most great books, these aspects add up to something much larger. Despite its subtle surface, the book has a sensibility and style that emit their own radiation. D’Agata tells his story with such poise and precision that it not only reveals the fragility of words and human life—it possesses the power to pull us in and change the way we think. —Bookforum

“The book’s connections dawn on you like a reverberating rhyme in a poem.” —The Boston Globe

About a Mountain is as fact-laden as any John McPhee book, but where McPhee works to clarify domains of fact generally understood only by experts, D’Agata focuses on the insufficiency of facts as vehicles for understanding contemporary reality. He draws our attention to the conflicts and gaps in expert opinion and to the terminal slipperiness of facts . . . and the end result is one of the most convincing metaphors for contemporary American reality that I have come across in any recent piece of writing.” —Quarterly Conversation

“A beautiful embodiment of what is a central principle of great nonfiction: it’s not remotely about what it purports to be about.” —The Millions

“What started as a book about a mountain changes into a book about Las Vegas and suicide and signs and language and death, and it reads like a wonderful and free-flowing improvisation. . . Our writer has a nearly inhuman depth of perception, and readers can take hope from how, in the face of his uncertainty, D’Agata puts his fine improvisational mind to work, where meaning dissolves into nothingness, where low ceilings are protection from God, where suicides occur by the dozen, where cakes are the size of football fields, and where language is as porous and corrosive as that damn mountain.” —The Rumpus

“In About a Mountain, his vivid, lyric, book-length essay on Las Vegas, John D’Agata presents a city caught between two very different but related kinds of disaster . . . The terrifying conclusion to which D’Agata leads us is that the question of suicide is just as thorny, vortex-like, and fundamentally unanswerable as the question of the most dangerous waste product of the world’s most technologically advanced nation.”—The Critical Flame

“Utterly amazing.” —Nick Flynn