We might develop a kind of spectrum of biographies. On one pole would be a book like In Cold Blood, where Truman Capote takes a largely unremarkable individual and tells his story so well as to make his subject into such a compelling person that he feels like a character in a novel. That is the gift of an author like Capote: deep psychological insight, an ability to draw profound conclusions about life and our world by investigating the story of an individual. On the other end of this spectrum we would have a book like D.T. Max’s new biography of David Foster Wallace, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story. Max’s book is decent and worth reading (particularly if you are a fan of Wallace’s writing), but it is a book without much human or philosophical insight. Unlike In Cold Blood, we read this book more or less solely because its subject is a figure of much celebrity interest. . . . continue reading, and add your comments
To give a little more context for Lady Chatterley’s Brother–which you all should pre-order right now–I’m going to reset Barrett’s essay on Nicholson Baker from Issue 21 of The Quarterly Conversation. Though Barrett doesn’t have much regard for Baker’s sex writing, he is a huge Baker fan (which is part of what makes his essay in LCB so interesting). . . . continue reading, and add your comments
A rough transcript of Franzen’s remarks vis a vis Wallace’s cruise ship. . . . continue reading, and add your comments
An interesting post over at Slate puts some context on the supposed David Foster Wallace character in Jeffrey Eugenides’ new novel, The Marriage Plot. Eugenides says it’s unintentional: . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I don’t have any idea of the context for this, so I’m not going to comment on whether or not Franzen should have spilled the beans, but it does detract a tiny bit from my appraisal of David Foster Wallace’s essays. The reason is that part of the point (and fun) of essays like “A Supposedly Fun Thing . . .” is the sheer shock and joy that actual human beings are doing the stuff that Wallace is describing. (This is different from the humor in Wallace’s fiction, where the pleasure comes from imagining that we’re not actually that far from some of the stuff he’s describing (but you nonetheless have to imagine that some of the scenarios were drawn from crazy things Wallace saw firsthand, or was told.)) . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Not quite sure what to think about this: . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The Awl, which previously published a piece on David Foster Wallace’s self-help books at the Harry Ransom Center (which houses his papers), is now claiming that those books have been removed from Wallace’s official archive.
It never occurred to me that Wallace’s estate would be in a position to rescind part of the sale of his documents to the Ransom Center; I wrote what I did under the assumption that these books would remain available to anyone who was interested in seeing them. I was very sorry—or rather, entirely freaked out—to learn that that will no . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Other than the identity of the author (the blogosphere love some envy), I’m not sure why this essay has been getting that much attention. It’s pretty much like most cultural criticism you find in the Times: fun, engaging, and ultimately forgettable. . . . continue reading, and add your comments
One of my favorite parts of Infinite Jest.
Yeah, I have no idea what to make of this. The book is The Marriage Plot, out in October. I hope that means they still have time to completely change the cover. . . . continue reading, and add your comments