David Foster Wallace proved himself an astute observer of the human condition. This book's insightful queries will be useful for any human with questions.
Dec 18, 2008
DFW exposes Adult Video Awards
Yes, despite the catchy headline David Foster Wallace really does turn his microscope on the American Video News's annual answer to the Acadamy Awards. And, then turns the same instrument on himself and on plenty of others in this display of his unique observational skills. As an added extra you also get footnotes galore (don't skip them.) You will also get the review of the Lobster Festival. This is a good way to break into the corpus of DFW if you haven't been exposed before. I loved it.
Apr 3, 2007
The Hilarious and Exasperating Mr. Wallace
I first read the essay "Consider the Lobster" in Gourmet magazine, of all places! That Gourmet would publish David Foster Wallace signals the periodical's new lively and risky editorial stance, and its publication resulted in the magazines greatest number of letters to the editor as from any other article they have published. Having read the essay, I couldn't wait to read the collection. Wallace, known more for his novels ("Infinite Jest") and experimental fiction ("Oblivion"), in his essays employs the same devices that are used (some say over-used) in his fiction - lengthy and convoluted footnotes, footnotes within footnotes. But in the essay form, the style seems to make more sense to me. In his fiction this kind of thing makes me imagine a smart wiseguy lurking behind the author's voice, telling me how smart he is. "Consider the Lobster" starts out as a high-spirited slice-of-Americana travelogue to the Maine Lobster festival and devolves into a meditation on the sentience of the American lobster, ruminations on PETA, whether or not lobsters feel pain, and so on. This is exactly the kind of thing that can get traditional Gourmet readers up in arms!
The other pieces in the collection take a look at the adult film business, American language usage, right-wing talk radio hosts, 9/11/2002, the campaign trail with Sen. John Mc Cain and reviews of Dostoyevsky, Updike and Kafka (whom is admired for "his humor"). In debt to Mark Twain, but also influenced by Pynchon, Tom Wolfe and Flannery O'Connor, David Foster Wallace is an American fictional voice to be reckoned with - brilliant, acerbic, hilarious and thought-provoking.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-02-06 This audiobook is like no other-not for the fabulous essays or deft narration, but for its inclusion of footnotes. Audio footnotes? It's quite simple. When Wallace reads his plentiful footnotes, which as fans know are anecdotal asides rather than bibliographic references, his voice changes tone. At first, this audio wrinkle sounds odd. But the novelty quickly fades and the parentheticals play as effective and amusing a role as in his print work, perhaps more so since here flow can be better maintained. Wallace dissects various subjects-lobsters, porn, sports memoirs, September 11-through Midwestern eyes. Smart and incisive, he always goes deep and follows threads of thought to their vanishing points, often in witty (though never a self-consciously clever) manner. His delivery is dead-on and fresh, the words often springing from his mouth as if conceived on the spot. His voice mostly hovers a notch or two above monotone, imbuing the material with equal parts wonder and skepticism. Though this collection comprises a mere four hours on three discs, Wallace's depth and breadth creates the sensation of a larger narrative-an audible confirmation that modern American writing continues to gain strength. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 10). (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-10-10 Novelist Wallace (Infinite Jest) might just be the smartest essayist writing today. His topics are various-this new collection treats porn, sports autobiographies and the vagaries of English usage, among others-his perspective always slightly askew and his observations on point. Wallace is also frustrating to read. This arises from a few habits that have elevated him to the level of both cause c?l?bre and enfant terrible in the world of letters. For one thing, he uses abbrs. w/r/t just about everything without warning or, most of the time, context. For another, he inserts long footnotes and parenthetical asides that by all rights should be part of the main texts (N.B.: These usually occur in the middle of phrases, so that the reader cannot recall the context by the time the parentheses are wrapped up) but never are. These tricks are adequately postmodern (a term Wallace is intelligent enough to question) to prove his cleverness. But a writer this gifted doesn't need such cleverness. Wallace's words and ideas, as well as a wonderful sense of observation that makes even the most shopworn themes seem fresh, should suffice. Agent, Bonnie Nadell. (Dec. 12) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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