I had a terribly busy week. One of the things keeping me busy, I’d like to mention, is the excitement over the release of D.T. Max’s Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, which goes on sale on Thursday. Since roughly last October I’ve been helping as a research assistant on the book, which I mention to caveat that when I say I think it is wonderful that’s a biased voice talking. Anyway, they already linked to the excerpt at the Millions here but I shall do it once more. There was another excerpt at the Daily Beast on Monday. There has been a lot of interesting commentary on the Rumpus over the years about DFW: here he is in the Write Like A Motherfucker letter from Elissa Bassist, there he is in Tye Pemberton’s interesting critique of the lens of biography and DFW. It will be interesting for me to see what you all think of it.
If you are looking for a Netflix watch this evening, I cannot recommend this documentary, called The Woodmans, enough. I am woefully undereducated on the matter of visual art; if it doesn’t have words in it I find it hard to follow, as a general rule. But Francesca Woodman’s photographs are haunting and lovely, and the parents unable to explain what happened to her — she committed suicide have looks on their faces you won’t soon forget.
The LARB has an essay up about the forgotten writer Julie Hayden. You may have noticed that I’ve a bit of an obsession with forgotten writers. I like to think about the aftermath of fame, partially, I guess, because when I was a kid I wanted it. I thought it would be its own reward. The longer I spend with all these figures the more I am confirmed that you learn it has a double-edge.
Also shameless self-promotion: I wrote a thing for Slate about the cultural trope of the hillbilly, and the Honey Boo Boo. I know we are not pop-culturists around here, nor should we be, but I tried to make this into something else. Perhaps you will agree.
Hm at the end of this I’ve come to think all of these recommendations are of a piece: for something slightly different, Maud Newton alerts us to the upcoming Tom Stoppard/Ford Madox Ford/Benedict Cumberbatch extravaganza of Parade’s End. Cruelly we are expected to wait months until it airs in the United States.