Posts Tagged: David Foster Wallace
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
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....more
The Millions allows readers the opening paragraphs of DT Max’s David Foster Wallace biography:
“The Wallaces ate at 5:45 p.m. Afterward, Jim Wallace would read stories to Amy and David. And then every night the children would get fifteen minutes each in their beds to talk to Sally about anything that was on their minds....more
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....more
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....more
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
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