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
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.
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.
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
Watch the first preview for “The End of the Tour,” starring Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace…
…then tell us what you think.
Writing about the news-worthy David Foster Wallace events of 2012 seemed like a clever idea, and I committed to doing it before checking the math. I knew there was a lot of Wallace stuff — enough to justify a quick post and provide a platform for reviewing the books published over the last 12 months. It turned out there was A LOT of Wallace stuff, and the sheer effort of cataloging it all took up two long and patience-testing posts for readers and too many long and patience-testing days for me. As a result, mistakes were made. Continue reading
Ed. Note: By any measure, Matt Bucher is an important contributor to the ongoing conversation about David Foster Wallace. For the last 10 years, he has administered the wallace-l listserv, which brings together enthusiasts, journalists, authors and scholars to discuss and debate the author. Recently, he offered research and review assistance to help shape D.T. Max’s 2012 biography, Every Love Story is Ghost Story, and is thanked in the book’s acknowledgements section for offering “top-level knowledge of DFW.” Fiction Advocate is glad to publish his thoughts on the biography and YEAR OF DAVID FOSTER WALLACE.
I. The Year of DFW & DTM
Q. Why was 2012 “the year of DFW”?
A. Well, it has a nice ring to it.
Since his death in 2008, David Foster Wallace has become an increasingly established star in the literary firmament. Those who care about trends and increments could very well say that there was “a lot” of activity around Wallace or “Wallace studies” in 2012, in hindsight. There was much to say about Wallace in 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008, as well. I expect 2013 and 2014 and 2063 will be no different.
This year, there is at least one book of essays on Wallace (edited by Stephen J. Burn and Marshall Boswell) due for publication, several dissertations on Wallace pitched as monographs to university presses, a reissue of Signifying Rappers due this summer, Greg Carlisle’s reader’s guide to Oblivion, and other books of previously unpublished Wallace material to come. I think it’s a real possibility that we will see a book of Wallace’s letters, a Portable David Foster Wallace reader, or another collection of unpublished short fiction. Comparisons to Tupac’s posthumous catalog will endure.