Grammar Master David Foster Wallace

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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. He was, as he would write in the piece, a SNOOT (explained in a footnote as Syntax Nudniks of Our Time).

On the New Yorker blog, DFW’s biographer D. T. Max tells the story about David Foster Wallace’s passion and interest for grammar and usage, as well as the relationship between him and his interviewer in “Quack This Way.”


Guia Cortassa was born, lives, and works in Milan, Italy. After working as a Contemporary Art curator, she went back to writing. She is a contributing editor for Ondarock and her writing has appeared on Rivista Studio, Flair and the Quietus. She compulsively tweets @gcmorvern. More from this author →