New Wallace Book (Sort Of)

Despite the fact that it’s widely available online, the commencement speech David Foster Wallace presented at Kenyon College in 2005 will be published as a 150-page book by Little, Brown this spring:

While some rumors persist that there’s an unfinished novel David
Foster Wallace was working on before he died in September, at least one
work from the author is definitely on the horizon. Wallace’s publisher,
Little, Brown, is going to release This Is Water in April 2009, which is the address the author delivered at Kenyon College’s commencement in 2005.

The speech, which LB assistant director of publicity Marlena Bittner
called Wallace’s "only philosophical public address," was paraphrased
and quoted in various Web sites and blogs after the author died. The
edition of the speech from LB will be slightly under 150 pages
and feature illustrations throughout; the imprint is going to press
for an announced 40,000 copies.

I imagine those will be some hefty margins, as well as a generous number of illustrations. Either that, or LB will go the route Penguin did the JM Coetzee’s Nobel address, which was presented as a minature hardcover (although they could only stretch that to 32 pages).

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There’s an obvious strategy to pad a book like this that would not be available to a Coetzee book: Footnotes.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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