Category Archives: David Foster Wallace

Considering the Lobster with Dahsan

photo: Alex Schwartzman instagram.com/alschwa

Even when I’m not reading him, I hear him. If I’m somewhere that seems peculiar for reasons I can’t immediately pinpoint, like the oilfields of North Dakota or a nightclub or a Home Depot, my first impulse is to wonder, “What would David Foster Wallace think of this place?”

I’m no Wallace expert. I’ve never read any of his fiction and only a handful of his essays. But the few essays I have read I revisit often. Every semester, the first essay I teach to my college writing class is “Consider the Lobster,” in which Wallace reports on the 2003 Maine Lobster Festival and what it was like to “spend several days in the midst of a great mass of Americans all eating lobster, and thus to be more or less impelled to think hard about lobster and the experience of buying and eating lobster.” Continue reading

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America This is Quite Serious: What Just Happened Was the Easy Part

FA serious

I began this series with the declaration “Politics sucks.” Boy was I right.

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet lately, you’ve already heard what others have to say about racism, sexism, coastal elite bubbles, millennials, the FBI, voter turnout, minority voter turnout, the real media, the fake news, the electoral college, etc. — basically any and every reason Hillary Clinton did not close the deal on November 8th. In the spirit of this series’ mission to recommend the best coverage, I found the most insightful and comprehensive reaction piece to be this one from Dave Roberts at Vox. For myself, I have largely stayed quiet because, as election day showed, it’s a bad idea to make decisions when you’re scared and angry.

gb-rational-thought

But a series about the 2016 election should include some response to the results. And in the time since those results came in, we’ve seen a lot of evidence for a very unpleasant truth: Continue reading

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Infinite Jest 20th Anniversary Cover Revealed

Last year, the publishers of Infinite Jest asked readers to give it a new look for the book’s 20th anniversary in 2016. Here is the winning design, chosen by a panel that included Karen Green, Wallace’s widow, and Michael Pietsch, the original editor of IJ and current CEO of Hachette Book Group:  Continue reading

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Straight Outta Normal: Six Thoughts on the David Foster Wallace Movie

FA review tag

Last Friday, the New York Times Sunday Styles page published “A Brief History of the Tough Star Profile,” reviewing notable celebrity press takedowns from Lillian Ross’ 1950 New Yorker piece on Ernest Hemingway, to Tiger Woods telling “puerile and sexist jokes” in GQ in 1997, to the most recent (and orders of magnitude less interesting) Esquire piece on Miles Teller. I don’t know who Teller is or why he’s famous, but he was quoted this month comparing his penis to a highball glass and being generally dickish. He’s probably more famous now because of it.

These kinds of profiles represent the extreme version of what David Foster Wallace was fixated on and deeply fearful of during five days he spent with Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky in 1996. The possibility that Lipsky could pick and choose from hours of conversation to portray pretty much any Dave Wallace Rolling Stone wanted came up again and again while the two men were together. We know because, while Lipsky never ended up writing a profile, he ultimately chose to publish the vast majority of the conversation as Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. The book has since been made into the movie The End of the Tourwhich I had a chance to see this weekend. Rather than add to the many straightforward reviews done by people who do that better than I can, here’s what I want you to know:

The movie is really good. It’s especially good if Continue reading

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Crowd Cover

Infinite Jest turns 20 in 2016, and to mark the anniversary, the book’s publisher Little, Brown is asking readers to give the book a facelift by submitting a new cover design.

IJ Cover

Submissions will be accepted starting tomorrow and running through September 15, with the winner to be chosen by the Wallace Literary Trust (meaning they probably won’t choose your design featuring  Jason Segel as Wallace). The winner will get a $1,000 American Express gift card and “the opportunity for your original cover to be used as the front cover of the 20th Anniversary edition” of the book.

Wallace himself was ambivalent about the book’s cover, according to his interviews with David Lipsky in Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself:

[Closes it, looks at cover. Clouds and sky.]

This was my major complaint about the cover of the book. …Is that it looks — on American Airlines flights? The cloud system, it’s almost identical.

[On safety booklet for 757]

Oh, that’s funny. What did you want instead?

Oh, I had a number of — there’s a great photo of Fritz Lang directing Metropolis. Do you know this one? Where he’s standing there, and there are about a thousand shaven-headed men in kind of rows and phalanxes, and he’s standing there with a megaphone? It wouldn’t have been…Michael [Pietsch, Wallace’s editor at Little Brown] said it was too busy and too like conceptual, it required too much brain work on the part of the audience….

Because you were making a metaphor on the cover?

No, I just thought it was cool —

There has been some truly great artwork created to honor Infinite Jest over the years, and it should be really cool to see what people come up with for this contest.

And if you’re interested in what’s inside the cover, check out our Infinite Jest Liveblog.

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The Beginning of The End of the Tour

Watch the first preview for “The End of the Tour,” starring Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace…

…then tell us what you think.

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