DFW Interview

dfw

The NYR Blog has just run a truncated version of a 2006 interview between David Foster Wallace and Ostap Karmodi (full interview on Karmodi’s blog).

It’s kind of interesting to compare the two versions being offered. In the NYR edit, A lot of the answers on Wallace’s side sound like standard cut-and-paste items from the Wallace toolkit (but there are a few interesting remarks). But if you look at the full interview (admittedly, very long) there’s a whole lot of ambiguity and texture that’s really quite interesting.

Anyway, since this is a literature blog, a quote from Wallace on novels after Infinite Jest:

OK: You wrote Infinite Jest ten years ago, and after that you didn’t write any other novels, just essays and stories. Do you feel it’s over for you with big novels? Is it more interesting for you to write stories now?

DFW: There are writers in America who consider themselves only novelists. I do all kinds of different things. I will probably at some point finish a novel. Whether it will be good enough to publish, I don’t know. I tend to start three or four things for every one thing that gets finished. I was trained mainly as a short story writer and that’s how I started writing, but I’ve also become very interested in non-fiction, just because I got a couple of magazine jobs when I was really poor and needed the money and it turned out that non-fiction was much more interesting than I thought it was. So I am, as American writers go, very eclectic. I haven’t made any decisions about one kind of genre or another. I love to read poetry but I will probably never write it because I just have no talent for it. But other then that I probably want to try everything.

OK: But now you just don’t feel like writing another novel?

DFW: Well, you make it sound like writing a novel is a matter of sitting down for an afternoon. I have for the past five or six years at times made starts on things. I don’t really understand the term “novel,” but I guess anything over about 150 pages is a novel. I’ve done a couple of longer things, I just don’t like them very much right now and I don’t know whether I will rewrite them. I don’t really need the money. My wife and I live very simply. I’m sure I will write more novels; I don’t know whether I will publish them or not. A lot of stuff that I write just goes in a big box in my office and no one else ever sees them.

Also see the current issue of The Quarterly Conversation for our seven-article retrospective on Wallace’s career.


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