Posts Tagged: David Foster Wallace

Tennis as Art Form

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Understanding tennis as aesthetic phenomenon involves returning to that word Wallace insists on using in his discussion of Federer: beauty.

At Guernica, Greg Chase discusses the new collection of David Foster Wallace’s essays on tennis, String Theory, in which tennis is investigated as an art form in light of Kant’s aesthetic philosophy on words like “beauty” and “genius.”

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Is This Water?

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Graduation season is upon us again, and with it comes the vacant, cliché-ridden literary animal that is the graduation speech. Over at Lit Hub, Emily Harnett revisits David Foster Wallace’s famous Kenyon graduation speech, “This Is Water,” and marvels at the insidiousness of the speech’s logic and message:

Tell your audiences that they’re too smart to want a certain thing and give it to them anyway.

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Tennis, Both Metaphor and Not

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The writer, existing only in reflection, is of all beings most excluded from the highest realms.

Over at the New Yorker, John Jeremiah Sullivan writes about the prominence of tennis in the works of David Foster Wallace—in both Wallace’s fiction and nonfiction, tennis is the writer’s most apparently revisited subject, and for good reason, as Sullivan argues: it’s literary.

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Total Noise and Complete Saturation

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For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested, in a clinical way, in silence. ...more

Really Good Fiction

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Infinite Jest recently turned twenty, a birthday so momentous it merited a new edition of the tome for college students to display on their bedside tables. In light of the renewed discussion about David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus, D.T. Max reminds disciples that he also wrote some other stuff:

Alongside his first collection, “Girl with Curious Hair,” published in 1989, “Brief Interviews” and “Oblivion” cumulatively make the case for Wallace as one of the most interesting short-story writers of our time.

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The Rumpus Interview with Elisa Gabbert

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Author Elisa Gabbert talks about her books, The Self Unstable and The French Exit, diversity, publishing, whiteness, and writing in the Internet Age. ...more

On Writing For Old White Men

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At the LA Times, Claire Vaye Watkins recounts her realization that she has been writing to appeal to the white male literary establishment:

I am trying to write something urgent, trying to be vulnerable and honest, trying to listen, trying to identify and articulate my innermost feelings, trying to make you feel them too, trying a kind of telepathy.

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The Rumpus Interview with David Lipsky

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David Lipsky, whose book was recently adapted into the movie The End of the Tour, discusses his career as a writer and journalist as it’s evolved in the twenty years since his road trip with David Foster Wallace. ...more

Mary Karr, Queen of the Memoir, on that “Low-Rent Form”

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I stopped putting things in quotation marks because I really wanted the reader to continue to understand or believe or think that he or she was in my head.

Listen up as Mary Karr, author of The Liars’ Club, Cherry, and Lit, talks to NPR’s Terry Gross about the art of memoir, the purpose of prayer, and the ambitions she and David Foster Wallace shared.

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The Complexities of Litchat

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Laura Miller writes in the New Yorker about litchat and legacy:

In fact, litchat has assumed an ever-greater role in criticism because so much of what once happened privately and fleetingly is now public and preserved. Social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are the main sites where this litchat happens today, and conversations on both spill over into digital and print journalism, which takes remarks made in interviews that generate Twitter responses and then amplifies them, spawning even more Twitter responses.

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Don’t (Blurb) Speak

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Wallace coined the helpful term “blurbspeak,” which he defined as “a very special subdialect of English that’s partly hyperbole, but it’s also phrases that sound really good and are very compelling in an advertorial sense, but if you think about them, they’re literally meaningless.”

Though David Foster Wallace was somewhat skeptical about book blurbs, he wasn’t unlikely to recommend books himself from time to time.

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The Rumpus Interview with Joshua Cohen

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Novelist Joshua Cohen gives an interview, digital, about his new novel, paper, but also digital, about the Internet, digital, subsuming the novel, even his novel, best on paper, Book of Numbers. ...more

Figure Drawing, Or, The Posthumous Persona Of David Foster Wallace

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On the eve of a new biopic and on the long tail of posthumous publishing and popularization—Christian Lorentzen takes a long, compassionate, critical look at David Foster Wallace and on the ways in which a prolific writer gets written into the public memory—as intellectual behemoth, creative luminary, contemptuous snob, major depressive, motivational speaker:

A writer who courted contradiction and paradox, who could come on as a curmudgeon and a scold, who emerged from an avant-garde tradition and never retreated into conventional realism, he has been reduced to a wisdom-dispensing sage on the one hand and shorthand for the Writer As Tortured Soul on the other.

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The Rumpus Interview with Christy Crutchfield

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Novelist Christy Crutchfield talks about her debut, How to Catch a Coyote, world building, inspiration, icky fiction, the role of mystery, and the marathon of novel writing ...more

Sean Wilsey_credit Susan Simmons

The Rumpus Interview with Sean Wilsey

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Sean Wilsey discusses his latest book of essays, More Curious, being David Foster Wallace’s neighbor, the healing power of the American road trip, and the difference between writing fiction and memoir. ...more

Word of the Day: Quiddity

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(n.); the essence or inherent nature of a person or thing; an eccentricity; an odd feature; a trifle, nicety or quibble; from the Latin quid (“what”)

“He was friendly, polite, and deeply interested in even the fine points I raised, and to my astonishment accepted a number of my changes, later saying that he had learned a lot in the process.

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Irony Genius Vs. Realism Hero

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If Franzen is our genius realist, and DFW our genius postmodernist — how might they meld irony and sincerity?

In an excerpt over at Salon from his new book, Keep It Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life, Eric G. Wilson talks irony, realism, postmodernism, David Foster Wallace, and Jonathan Franzen.

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