Four days ago, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest turned twenty; if you had been reading a page a day since it came out, by now you could have read it over 6.5 times. Despite its age and length, the novel still enjoys massive cultural relevance....more
Posts Tagged: David Foster Wallace
The debate has typically been framed around whether it is ever appropriate for a writer to reference Seinfeld, Bright Eyes, or Facebook. What makes more sense is to talk about whether or not doing so is helpful for the specific project at hand.
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.
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....more
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.
So why has Infinite Jest, supposedly such an influential novel, become a paper weight, a talking point, a bench-mark of high- and low-brow intellectuality? Why has no one (or, more accurately, why does everyone think that no one) has actually read the thing?
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....more
But actually, part of what I think Lipsky wanted was to have a good, long, conversation, one of those talks that lift you out of your regular life and into another mode of being, the way a really good book can.
The early skepticism for The End of the Tour may have been misguided. David Poland caught up with James Ponsoldt (the film’s director) and Donald Marguiles (its Pulitzer-winning screenwriter) to touch on Wallaces’s legacy, the Lipsky interview, and the process behind what’s since been deemed a “glorious casting.”...more
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.
(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.
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....more
No, I’m thinking of mythology, that America of Madison Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, the Alamo and Antietam. In this spiritual landscape, Indiana isn’t misunderstood. It’s ignored.
Over at Electric Literature, Adam Fleming Patty looks for some literary fortune in his infamous homeland, the state of Indiana....more
“Tax law is like the world’s biggest game of chess with all sorts of weird conundrums about ethics and civics and the consent of the governed built in,” Wallace wrote in an email to his friend, the novelist Jonathan Franzen, in 2007.
For The Millions, Jonathan Russell Clark covers Little Brown’s new The David Foster Wallace Reader, touching upon what he calls the writer’s “metanonfiction.” He also discusses, among other things, his hopes for the volume:
… if this “Reader” accomplishes anything, it would be wonderful if some new Wallace fans emerged from its publication.
Marginalia is a blow struck against the idea that reading is a one-way process, that readers simply open their minds and the great, unmediated thoughts of the author pour in.
We can approach the books from a variety of different critical, theoretical, and ideological perspectives, too, depending on students’ backgrounds and interests. In essence, we can talk about whatever you wish to — provided that we do it cogently and well.
In an excerpt from his recently released book Rocket and Lightship: Essays on Literature and Ideas, Adam Kirsch positions David Foster Wallace as a quintessentially American writer: self-conscious and ironic, but at the same time frenzied, earnest, and above all contradictory:
A clue to the answer can be found in a question Wallace asked in “Infinite Jest:” “Why is the truth usually not just un- but anti-interesting?” In that excessively interesting book, the interesting is always suspect.