Posts Tagged: David Foster Wallace

Remembering David Foster Wallace

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Five years ago today, groundbreaking writer David Foster Wallace took his own life.

Maria Popova at Brain Pickings remembers him with a post excerpting Conversations with David Foster Wallace, a “collection of 22 interviews and profiles of the beloved author.” A preview:

Really good work probably comes out of a willingness to disclose yourself, open yourself up in spiritual and emotional ways that risk making you look banal or melodramatic or naive or unhip or sappy, and to ask the reader really to feel something.

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Possibility: Essays Against Despair

“Possibility: Essays Against Despair,” by Patricia Vigderman

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I like Patricia Vigderman because she likes jickjacking. She describes in “A Writer’s Harvest”, an earlier piece in Possibility: Essays Against Despair, how the sight of that slangy word, in two distinct (but linked) stories—one by Mary Karr, the other by David Foster Wallace—motivate her toward personal tangents and pleasures.

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New DFW Books: Both A Good Idea and Not

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Both Flesh and Not, the latest posthumous David Foster Wallace book, has been released, and Rumpus pal Andrew Altschul has written an extensively titled essay about it for the Quarterly Conversation.

In it, he explores with a springy verbosity not unlike Wallace’s own the book’s strengths and shortcomings, the publisher’s motivations for releasing it, and the legacy with which Wallace left us.

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Improve your prose with Math

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Alright fiction writers, put down your pens for a moment and let’s talk math.

If you recoil when hearing the “M-word” or brace your index fingers into a cross at the sight of algebra or calculus books—you’re not alone. But according to Alex Nazaryan’s article, “Why Writers Should Learn Math,” writers  could improve their prose by embracing math instead of cowering from it.  

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David Foster Wallace Was A Comedy Nerd

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Blythe Robertson unpacks David Foster Wallace’s thoughts, and impacts, on American comedy for Splitsider.

Wallace often worried about the overwhelming amount of irony on television – talking heads poking fun at those watching the show while viewers laugh along at themselves, neither party doing much to fix their apparent boredom with the shallowness of the medium.

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A Virtual Tour Of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest

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Attention All David Foster Wallace Fans,

Writer William Beutler is compiling real life Boston, MA locations featured in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest:

“About each I will write some 300–500 words, endeavoring to say something interesting about the role a given location plays in the story, how it appears in the present day, and what it was like to visit.

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On “Proper” English and Objective Legislation

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It’s no secret that English is a constantly shifting, malleable, many-headed beast of a language, yet, much of the time, writers and speakers insist emphatically on obeying its many ostensibly rigid rules.

At The New York Times, linguist John McWhorter writes about the myth of “proper” English:

“We are taught that a proper language makes perfect logical sense, and that allowing changes willy-nilly threatens chaos.”

In the article, McWhorter argues that changes in the English language are akin to shifts in fashion: they have real, tangible effects, but should not be used in any way to infer the “intelligence or moral worth” of a speaker or writer.

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The DFW-Franzen Saga

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In this Awl piece, Michelle Dean weighs in on Jonathan Franzen’s declaration that David Foster Wallace “fabricated at least part of—and potentially a large part of—his nonfiction pieces.” The article looks back at Wallace’s statements about his nonfiction, and discusses both “the Franzen paradox” and the dynamics of the “Wallace-Franzen friendship.”

“In a faint echo of the (frequently too academic) debate about the distinction between fiction and non-fiction, the question of whether or not either of these statements are empirically true, as descriptions of Wallace, strikes me as beside the point.

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Maud Newton on a DFW-Inspired Trend

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Maud Newton’s NY Times essay, “Another Thing to Sort of Pin on David Foster Wallace,” discusses yet another DFW-inspired trend–that is his “slangy approachability.”

He defined a writing style that has permeated through the blogosphere. His ability to combine legal diction with colloquialisms and “slacker lingo,” all to express one highly philosophical argument was indeed a DFW idiosyncrasy—one being reproduced by “a legion of opinion-mongers who not only lack his quick mind but seem not to have mastered the idea that to make an argument, you must, amid all the tap-dancing and hedging, actually lodge an argument.” Newton writes on the evolution of this trend and what has become of irony.

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