Posts Tagged ‘David Foster Wallace’

David Foster Wallace’s “posthumous unfinished novel,” The Pale King, has arrived — let the commentating begin.

Over at Slate, Tom Scocca tears down Michiko Kakutani’s review of the new book, and of the whole notion, more generally, that a deceased author should be evaluated based on work that he never completed.

Scocca, in blistering form:


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It’s funny: I went years without hearing about DFW, and now, in the weeks since I finally started reading his work, I see his name everywhere.

Wallace comes up in that Jon Krakauer interview I posted last week (apparently Krakauer tried and failed to read “Infinite Jest” at Everest Base Camp) and in this Financial Times piece about the art of writing a great sentence.

Best of all, just after I started reading Consider the Lobster I came across a long, previously unpublished interview with Wallace, which appeared on Slate’s Scocca blog in several parts. It focuses on his nonfiction writing, and it’s a really great read.

David Foster Wallace on Nonfiction, 1998:
Part 1: “I’m Not a Journalist and I Don’t Pretend To Be One”
Part 2: “My Big Problem With Magazines Is That They Tend To Have Word Lengths”
Part 3: “There’s Going To Be the Occasional Bit of Embellishment”
Part 4: “I Will Slice Open My Head For You”
Part 5: “It’s Not Very Good for Me When People Treat Me Like a Big Shot”

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Over the course of a few weeks last year, from mid-November to late December, I read my way through David Foster Wallace’s second essay collection, Consider the Lobster — and I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts and write something coherent about it ever since. Trouble is, I was so overwhelmingly impressed by the book that I can’t seem to get beyond an initial layer of breathless fangirlism to whatever more, er, thoughtful thoughts may lie underneath.

Wallace and his writing had initially passed me by entirely. My first clear recollection of his name coincides with his 2008 suicide: co-editor Jim Benning wrote a brief obit post for the World Hum blog, and over the next few days I followed a trail of links and wondered how I’d missed hearing about the writer whose death had lit up the internet.

Over the next couple of years, I continued to see Wallace’s name pop up here and there, on World Hum and beyond; I even wrote a couple of Wallace-related blog posts myself. But apart from a few excerpts, I still had yet to sit down and give any of his work a proper read.

With “Consider the Lobster,” I’ve finally remedied that. And boy, am I glad I did.


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