Essayist John D’Agata and fact-checker Jim Fingal co-wrote a book called The Lifespan of a Fact. I have read every review about the book since. It seems that Lifespan isn’t being reviewed, but instead a status quo is being swiftly and aggressively defended....more
Posts Tagged: David Foster Wallace
John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead should be hailed not simply as a fabulous piece of writing but as a landmark debut of a new genre, invented by others but perfected here....more
Edouard Levé’s Suicide, a slim, declarative, idea-driven novel, is daring and raw, and packed full of rewards for any reader willing to take a wide step outside of the American mainstream....more
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....more
There are many ways to appreciate the work of David Foster Wallace.
Michael Schur, the man who co-created the tv show, “Parks and Rec,” is reproducing a scene from Infinite Jest in music-video form. Schur’s directorial debut is the coexistence of both his favorite band (the Decemberists) and the novel that most profoundly altered his mind....more
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....more
Reviewing The Pale King is a difficult process, for a number of reasons. The most obvious of which include that it is a last novel (though we wish it weren’t) whose author isn’t alive to see its publication (though we wish that weren’t true) and it is an unfinished novel, whose author’s own intended shape is unknown....more
“He left us this book—the people closest to him agree that he wanted us to see it. This is not, in other words, a classic case of Posthumous Great Novel, where scholars have gone into an estate and unearthed a manuscript the author would probably never want read....more
In September 2008, David Foster Wallace stepped out onto his patio and did what most of us occasionally imagine doing, but hopefully never go through with....more
You read last week in The Rumpus about the new “statistical analysis tool” that tells you who you write like. Coding Robots, a group of software developers, seemingly created I Write Like just for fun; the page analyzes your word choice and writing style and spits back a writer it compares you to (out of a list of 50 writers, according to Dmitry Chestnykh in his interview with The Awl)....more
I often wonder if reviews can be great. Can a book (or an essay) that is essentially “about” another book compare to an original work?...more
In 1994, David Foster Wallace published an essay about the difficult-to-pin-down pleasure of watching great athletes during their most intense moments of competition. The essay, “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart,” looks simple on the surface: it is “unaccompanied,” by which I mean there are no numbered footnotes, no preambles, no subtitles and no flow charts framing or attached to the text....more
“I think avant-garde fiction has already gone the way of poetry. And it’s become involuted and forgotten the reader. Put it this way, there are a few really good poets who suffered because of the desiccation and involution of poetry, but for the most part I think American poetry has gotten what it’s deserved....more
When life is not the slightest bit luminescent, I read Lorrie Moore. She honors a commitment to the search for truth and morality through emotional and reachable means....more
My relationship with the book blogs has hit a snag. Today, we got in a throw-down fight, and I came pretty close to breaking some china.
It’s just that the blogs whine and worry and complain a lot, and they always seem to want to cheat on me with famous writers, like Martin Amis or David Foster Wallace or Marquis de Sade, and then it rubs off on me, and I end up whining and worrying and complaining more than they do, and then I stop liking myself....more
With so many shopping days left until whenever, there is no end to the amount of printed matter out there that is riveting, ravishing and ultimately rewarding.
The book blogs are overwhelming to someone like me who wants to read everything....more
“Nothing can’t be made with wood.” Street legal wooden car!
I don’t know about you, but I could use some good news this Monday morning. Cell phones might not cause brain tumors after all!
Evidently the US Defense Department is way more whimsical than we’d thought....more
It’s fall! The air is crisp, the leaves are falling, and I can’t seem to leave my house....more
My boyfriend insisted I read Brief Interviews with Hideous Men when we started dating. “It will help you understand the way men think!” he exclaimed. Secrets of those bearing a Y chromosome would be revealed, he promised; David Foster Wallace had explored the shadows of the psyche of his generation and had rendered them on the page in all of their dark, desperate beauty....more