All stories relating to David Foster Wallace
Book links roundup: David Foster Wallace’s unpublished scene, Christopher Hitchens up for Orwell Prize, and more
- Unpublished new scene from David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King
- Christopher Hitchens makes Orwell Prize longlist
- Writer Kelly Roman and artist Michael DeWeese draw blood for launch of their graphic novel The Art of War
- Former bookseller to run London Marathon dressed in Victorian costume, reading Dickens
- Rabee Jaber wins International Prize for Arabic Fiction
- A psychologist says pronoun usage speaks volumes about one’s psyche
- NASA forms partnership with Tor-Forge Books to assist science fiction writers
- A New York Times columnist argues about how David Foster Wallace argued
- Review of Wild Abandon, and Q&A with its author Joe Dunthorne
- Letters from Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, J.R.R. Tolkien, and John Keats
- Salman Rushdie appearing at TIFF this year to discuss adaptation of his novel Midnight’s Children
Sundry links from around the Web:
- Doubleday Canada publishing director Lynn Henry on making the first English-language acquisition of Karen Thompson Walker’s much-hyped debut novel, The Age of Miracles
- Booksellers outraged that posthumous David Foster Wallace novel is sold online before becoming available in stores
- Meanwhile, Time‘s Lev Grossman calls The Pale King DFW’s “finest work as a novelist”
- BookNet Canada’s Samantha Francis asks: Is self-publishing any different than content-farmed media?
- Dieting tips from Margaret Atwood
- Typewriter revivalists launch type-in, “a jam session for people who like typewriters”
- Kicking off the baseball season, the Los Angeles Times picks nine essential books about America’s pastime, and Globe books editor Martin Levin reviews biographies of Detroit Tigers slugger Hank Greenberg and Joe DiMaggio
Today’s book news:
Daily book biz round-up: Oprah’s arrow points to Franzen again; Google mangles your literary faves; and more
Today’s book news:
- MobyLives says that Oprah is picking Freedom (We don’t know who to trust anymore!)
- President Obama to write dull-looking children’s book
- Amazon attacks iPad for being too shiny
- David Foster Wallace archive debuts today
- How Google Voice mangles literature’s most famous opening lines
“We’ve had the ‘woe is me, alas’ memoir, the ‘feeling orgasmic over the touch of linen on my toes alone in bed in Italy on Tuesday’ memoir, the ‘Thank Christ she wasn’t my mother’ memoir, the ‘I got rid of my husband and everything makes sense’ memoir, and now, in the case of Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story, we arrive at the “nothing in particular, on me holidays with me mum, we might be having a crisis but you’ll need a magnifying glass to find it” memoir. Publishers trot this tripe out because of the chance it might be lifted by the winds of marketing and carried to every middle-class dinner table.” – Anakana Schofield, from The Globe and Mail‘s Daily Review for Jan. 12
“A new independent study, conducted by the online monitoring and enforcement service Attributor, found that ‘nine million illegal downloads of copyright-protected books were documented during the closing months of 2009,’ according to the [Association of American Publisher's] release….Indeed, those are staggering numbers – and something that must be contended with. And yet they’re kind of perversely encouraging in a way: That many people want to read that many books, and are willing to steal to do so…. At least that goes against the ‘nobody reads anymore’ and ‘it’s the death of publishing’ story we’ve been hearing so much of. And that glass of rare Chateau Lafite 1787 is half full.“ - Mobylives
“How surreally wonderful to discover that an entire exhibition devoted to the ‘works’ of David Foster Wallace’s fictional creation James Incandenza is set to open later this month. A cult filmmaker, Incandenza is the star of Wallace’s seminal novel Infinite Jest… As was his wont, Wallace included a footnote in the novel about the filmography of Incandenza, and now using the author’s ‘detailed list of over 70 industrial, documentary, conceptual, advertorial, technical, parodic, dramatic non-commercial, and non-dramatic commercial works’, Columbia University’s Neiman Centre has commissioned artists and filmmakers to make the movies.”- The Guardian
“Three weeks after Highsmith’s arrival, a new resident appeared at Yaddo: Flannery O’Connor. Does your imagination not crackle at the idea of Highsmith and O’Connor living under the same set of roofs? As Highsmith drafted Strangers on a Train, O’Connor worked on Wise Blood…. Highsmith did not think much of O’Connor, who was disinclined to join the other colonists on their treks to the taverns of Saratoga Springs” – The New Yorker
January is SUAWOYN month … according to Colson Whitehead.
“Canada’s literary scene does not financially support more than a handful of authors, so don’t limit your work to Canada if your goal is to make a living as a novelist. You will either starve or die of frustration. It’s hard enough trying to make it as a writer without adding obstacles in your path.” – author Jeffrey Round on Open Book Toronto
On the film-related website The House Next Door, Glenn Kenny, a former editor at Premiere, reminisces about working with David Foster Wallace on three articles for the magazine. One of those pieces, about the Adult Video News awards, also appeared in Wallace’s 2005 essay collection Consider the Lobster. As Kenny recalls:
We worked very hard on the cut, and then there was the whole matter of legal, which was very weird, because there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s invented, starting from the dual pseudonym which he then expands into a conceit of first person plural narration. There are the characters of Dick Filth and Harold Hecuba, who were invented characters that were also composites of myself and Evan. Legal was like, “Oh-kay … Harold Hecuba’s trifocals winding up in cleavage of Christy Canyon and then never being seen again?” Obviously, that’s not what really happened. It was more like, Jasmine St. Clair got Evan into a choke hold at a party one night. But we said they should let it go because: “Neither Evan or I care about the fact that we’re Dick Filth and Harold Hecuba and … the writer’s a very big deal!”
Er, the piece was billed as non-fiction in both the magazine and the book, right?
Perhaps Quillblog is too much of a purist, but it’s disheartening to learn that Wallace apparently subscribed to the David Sedaris view that strict truthfulness is for lesser mortals. It’s also pretty dismaying to see a major magazine knowingly allowing falsehoods as long as (a) nobody’s likely to sue, and (b) “the writer’s a very big deal.”
“I want to author things that both restructure worlds and make living people feel stuff.” So wrote the late David Foster Wallace to his editor during the composition of the mammoth novel Infinite Jest. Part mission statement, part expression of his dissatisfaction with what he viewed as the staid and outmoded realistic novel that had come to dominate American fiction, Foster Wallace’s comment, and the writing that proceeded from it, helped breathe new life into a form that was in danger of becoming unrelievedly moribund.
Foster Wallace committed suicide on September 12 of last year, leaving an unfinished novel behind. The New Yorker has published an excerpt from the final novel, along with a long appreciation of the author by D.T. Max:
Wallace’s desire to write “morally passionate, passionately moral fiction,” as he put it in a 1996 essay on Dostoyevsky, presented him with a number of problems. For one thing, he did not feel comfortable with any of the dominant literary styles. He could not be a realist. The approach was “too familiar and anesthetic,” he once explained. Anything comforting put him on guard. “It seems important to find ways of reminding ourselves that most ‘familiarity’ is meditated and delusive,” he said in a long 1991 interview with Larry McCaffery, an English professor at San Diego State. The default for Wallace would have been irony – the prevailing tone of his generation. But, as Wallace saw it, irony could critique but it couldn’t nourish or redeem. He told McCaffery, “Look, man, we’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is?”
Wallace himself needed no reminding of “how dark and stupid everything is”; he struggled with depression for much of his adult life, and was in the grip of a deep depression when he died. What is so remarkable about his fiction is that it is such a vibrant testament to life in all its passion and vitality. “Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being,” he said in an interview. Hear, hear.
- Was David Foster Wallace the “greatest writer of his generation?” David Lipsky makes the case in his Rolling Stone profile, excerpted here
- An appreciation of legendary U.K. agent Pat Kavanagh, also recently deceased
- French provocateur Bernard-Henri Lévy critiques the “barbarians” on the left
- The Guardian on why BHL is really an intellectual lightweight
- A New York librarian is wrist-slapped for showing parental pride
For the second week in a row, the weekend brings news about the suicide of a well-known writer. Arguably as startling as the news last week that David Foster Wallace hanged himself at the young age of 46 is the revelation, in Saturday’s Globe and Mail, that Lucy Maud Montgomery, one of Canada’s most beloved authors, also killed herself, with a drug overdose at the age of 67.
The revelation was made in an essay by Montgomery’s granddaughter, Kate Macdonald Butler, who writes that she wants to bring Montgomery’s long battle with depression and its sad conclusion to light in the hopes that it will encourage more people suffering from mental illness to seek help:
I have great admiration for my grandmother, for her contribution to Canadian literature and culture, her strength of character, and the love, pride and sense of responsibility she gave to my family.
I am proud of her courage, given how isolated and lonely she must have felt during certain periods of her life. I wish that her family or community had had some of the tools that are available today. I expect that most families continue to be bewildered about how to help loved ones who suffer from debilitating depression.
I hope that by writing about my grandmother now there might be less secrecy and more awareness that will ease the unnecessary suffering so many people experience as a result of such depressions.
Sadly, Wallace’s recent decision to end his life after a lengthy bout with depression indicates that, while the stigma may be less prevalent in 2008 than during Montgomery’s lifetime, the disease still claims the lives of many people who can see no other way out of their circumstances.
Here’s hoping that next week will provide some literary news that is not suicide-related.