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
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.
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
The 20th Anniversary edition of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is now for sale. The updated cover is the result of a reader contest, and has been the subject of some controversy.
Unfortunately, David Foster Wallace is not around to celebrate the release, or tell us what he will be doing today. But if your plans today include embarking on one of the most challenging and rewarding reading experiences available to human beings, we’re happy to recommend reading along using “Words Words Words: The Infinite Jest Liveblog.”
We wish you way more than luck.
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
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 Tour, which 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
This Friday, nerds and friends of nerds in the vicinity of “select theaters” will finally have to decide whether or not they are willing to go see The End of the Tour, the movie covering the days David Foster Wallace spent with Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky at the close of the promotional tour for Infinite Jest. The movie has been controversial, from the casting of comedic actor Jason Segel as Wallace to the disavowal of the project from the Wallace estate. Good people (again, mostly nerds) are wrestling with the question of whether they should go see it.
Until last night, I myself was one of those people/nerds. Continue reading