Posts Tagged: David Foster Wallace
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.
Fascinated by The Brick Bible, Professor Kevin Griffith of Ohio’s Capital University has had his 11-years-old son Sebastian recreating in LEGO bricks 100 scenes from David Foster Wallace’s masterpiece Infinite Jest. Griffith explained to The Guardian:
“I would describe a scene to him and he would recreate it in a way that suited his vision.
I didn’t really understand emotionally that there are people around who didn’t have enough to eat, who weren’t warm enough, who didn’t have a place to live, whose parents beat the hell out of them regularly. The sadness isn’t in seeing it, the sadness is in realizing how phenomenally lucky I am, not only to have never been hungry or cold, but to be educated, to have access to books.
(n.) breaking out afresh or into renewed activity; from the Latin recrudescere (“to become raw again”)
The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about … this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.
What happens when the reproduction rights of literary works and an author’s public image are taken out of their owner’s control, but without any law infringement?
Over at the Paris Review, Evan Kindley tries to find out. He compares the case of the upcoming David Foster Wallace movie, adapted from David Lipsky’s memoir Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, to what happened to James Joyce when Ulysses was reprinted by another author in the U.S., where the book wasn’t under copyright....more
At one time, irony served to reveal hypocrisies, but now it simply acknowledges one’s cultural compliance and familiarity with pop trends. The art of irony has lost its vision and its edge. The rebellious posture of the past has been annexed by the very commercialism it sought to defy.
Think about it. A real leader is somebody who, because of his own particular power and charisma and example, is able to inspire people, with ‘inspire’ being used here in a serious and non-cliché way. A real leader can somehow get us to do certain things that deep down we think are good and want to be able to do but usually can’t get ourselves to do on our own.
The interview was a byproduct of an article Wallace started in the late nineties on the grammar wars. Most writers think of grammar as uninteresting, the machine code of literature, but Wallace loved it for many reasons—because his mother did; because it was full of rules, and limits gave him pleasure; and because his mastery of the subject reminded everyone how smart he was.
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.
It’s commencement speech season, and New York Daily News‘s books blog has a roundup of some of the best graduation advice from literary figures. Like this, from Toni Morrison:
…art takes us and makes us take a journey beyond price, beyond cost, into bearing witness to the world as it is and as it should be.
In an interview with addiction website The Fix, reprinted at Salon, memoirist and poet Mary Karr discusses getting clean, flouting rules, and how sobriety shaped her relationship with David Foster Wallace.
You’re present when you’re not drinking a fifth of Jack Daniel’s every day.
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....more
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....more
Happy Birthday, David Foster Wallace! You would have been 51 today.
To celebrate the life of one the most brilliant contemporary writers, re-read Funny Women editor Elissa Bassist’s piece “A Baker’s Dozen on My Feelings About David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.”
The ferocity with which scholars, writers, fans, and cultural critics explicate the legacy of David Foster Wallace, or even that a legacy is thought to already exist at all, strikes me as a bit absurd, if inevitable....more
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....more
If you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like to be a cataloger of an author’s work, much less David Foster Wallace’s final book, you may want to give Jenn Shapland’s gorgeous essay, “The Human Heart is a Chump: Cataloging The Pale King” a going over....more