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by David Foster Wallace
I’d love to see what Proust might have done in another voice, in, say, science fiction or with the story of a pair of street urchins. Or how Chandler might have written differently to tell the story of a great romance, stretching beyond his comfort zone where something entirely fresh might be born.
Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give to The End of the Tour, the new film about a five-day interview between the writer David Foster Wallace and Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky, is that I finally started reading Wallace again.
Larsen acknowledges the great authors who came before him, how their influence on him is undeniable, unavoidable, deep –– but that he is still his own writer, one with formidable gifts and looming ambition.
Wallace’s complex mind and neurotic tendencies found their most successful (i.e. accessible and popular) outlet in nonfiction, and that although history may remember his novels and stories as his most important contributions to literature, his nonfiction is more successful in doing what he aimed to do with literature and more representative of who he was as a person and a writer.
This is a terrific novel. I couldn't help wishing, as I did with so much of what I read this year, that my old man was still around, that I might recommend it to him.
The only man who seemed to be showing us, through all that was modern and new in his literature, a possibility for an old-fashioned answer to the great existential questions that have guided philosophers and writers for ages. And he kills himself. When I heard the news, I turned off my computer and played the piano for an hour or so, trying to empty my mind, or fill it with something else.
The process of titling remains individualized and mysterious: methods range from intuition to reason, from revelation to painful labor. Here, five contemporary authors tell us about theirs.
Artists procrastinate. They also persist. What is certain is that we carry ideas around for longer than we know, and part of the artistic venture is unearthing the source.
This kind of gymnastic use of a single word is Smith's specialty, but instead of simply engaging in verbal pyrotechnics for their own sake, Smith wants to understand the dynamic between language and our inner lives.
Want Not craves pride of place with such “sprawling” novels of social commentary as Infinite Jest and Freedom. Surprisingly, though, it turns out not to be a didactic story about reducing, reusing, and recycling. It may be just the opposite, a subversive argument that we are focusing our attention on the wrong sort of waste.
It’s with a sense of incompletion that I offer my nine recommendations here for January, books and poems that begin, or hinge, or are contained in the year’s first month.
What I lacked before coming to the U.S. was an appreciation of the rootedness of David Foster Wallace's work in a specific geography. I had experienced only how the map could shape the territory. Living in Cambridge allowed me to see how the territory might conversely underpin the literary map.
With astounding single-mindedness (or monomania, if you prefer), Knausgaard has pursued a writing project that both consumes him and sequesters him from life. He’s Ahab, only he’s gone and caught the whale.
I feel like various dead writers are dear friends of mine -- from Woolf to Plath to Duras to DFW -- their lives and lessons and warnings and urgings are constantly informing my own, challenging my own.
On the wall behind her, a sign informs me that this is “food with integrity.” A dozen meat strips sizzle on the open stove; Chipotle’s chicken, boasts another sign, “is raised without antibiotics and fed a diet free of animal by-products.”
A last hurrah for our number one, and a new collection of essays from a master who is missed.
I am the cataloger of David Foster Wallace's final work, The Pale King, and I'm here to tell you that in cases like these, the rules will only get you so far.
It’s not really that David had any answers for people. But he never stops taking his life seriously and he never stops taking the reader’s life seriously. And I think that’s the connection: you never stop mattering to him and he never stops mattering to himself.
Excerpt: The Opening Paragraphs of D.T. Max's Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace 18
The first definitive treatment of David Foster Wallace's life arrives next week.
Six months ago, I rounded up a list of my favorite literary Tumblr accounts. Alas, six months in the real world is different from six months online, and Tumblr now has grown by a few million blogs. So with that in mind, I’ve decided it’s time for another list — a better list, a bigger list.
You could feel the love. Here was a group turned out to commemorate the brilliance of one guy’s colossal strivings, his dogged humility, the beautiful nuance and intricate recursions of a mind pushing past the simple given.
I guess this is to say that the symposium had its share of characters one might expect to find in a David Foster Wallace novel.
1Q84 is Murakami's finest work: nuanced, brilliant, gripping, philosophical but never tendentious, self-assured, cleverly post-modern yet authentic, and possessed of a haunting surrealism that by this point surely deserves its own adjective: Murakamian?
By the end of the first page, you have learned everything you are ever going to know about the events on which the book focuses. What Queneau does do, however, is re-narrate this same scenario a further 98 times, in a series of distinct styles.
Why Do People Read Literary Fiction?
Is it my imagination, or do an inordinate number of writers die in motor vehicle accidents?
For the Luddite writer who wants to put her royalties where her mouth is, I offer the choicest trade secrets...plus a Top 10 list of eBook-resistant texts.
...and some other observations of doubtful critical merit.
Did Wallace's speech resonate on the hot Ohio morning when he delivered it to the assembled student, or did it get lost amid the hurrah of a graduation weekend?
Certainly Wallace had set himself a problem masochistic or quixotic in its difficulty: how to write an interesting novel about that byword for tedium, the IRS? And how to write a religious novel about the most disenchanted and secular of professions, namely accounting?
Why so much genius? Why now?
8,000 words strong and encompassing 76 titles, it's the only 2011 book preview you will ever need.
The number of novelists with a claim to having published major work this year forms a kind of alphabet: Aira, Amis, Bolaño, Boyd, Carey, Cohen, Cunningam, Donoghue...
A mini-boom in big books would seem to complicate our assumptions about the Incredible Shrinking Attention Span.
Joshua Cohen’s mammoth Witz is the new 800+ page novel to vie for your entire summer reading schedule; to make half your book club drop out; to inspire annotations, wikis, lexicography cults.
A. C. Bradley is a better critic in full than he is in bits and pieces, and Shakespearean Tragedy continues to be an exciting book for anyone interested in literature.
If I were an addict, I would get high and while high, presumably, worry about where I was to get my next fix. Reading is not all that different, I think. As a reader, I am always looking over the binding thinking about the next read, in some instances, longing for it. Some books, like some highs, are better than others. But even with not-so-good books, I will come back to the drug, seeking the next high.
Four books move on to the Hall of Fame and six books debut on the list.
Pynchon and Bolaño hit the list. Plus, two new Hall of Fame inductees.