Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a sick sense of humour? What is John Updike's deal anyway? And who won the Adult Video News' Female Performer of the Year Award the same year Gwyneth Paltrow won her Oscar? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in his new book of hilarious non-fiction. For this collection, David Foster Wallace immerses himself in the three-ring circus that is the presidential race in order to document one of the most vicious campaigns in recent history. Later he strolls from booth to booth at a lobster festival in Maine and risks life and limb to get to the bottom of the lobster question. Then he wheedles his way into an L.A. radio studio, armed with tubs of chicken, to get the behind-the-scenes view of a conservative talkshow featuring a host with an unnatural penchant for clothing that only looks good on the radio. In what is sure to be a much-talked-about exploration of distinctly modern subjects, one of the sharpest minds of our time delves into some of life's most delicious topics.
A Philosophical Analysis of Contemporary American Literature
Author: Allard den Dulk
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Category: Literary Criticism
The novels of David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers and Jonathan Safran Foer are increasingly regarded as representing a new trend, an 'aesthetic sea change' in contemporary American literature. 'Post-postmodernism' and 'New Sincerity' are just two of the labels that have been attached to this trend. But what do these labels mean? What characterizes and connects these novels? Den Dulk shows that the connection between these works lies in their shared philosophical dimension. On the one hand, they portray excessive self-reflection and endless irony as the two main problems of contemporary Western life. On the other hand, the novels embody an attempt to overcome these problems: sincerity, reality-commitment and community are portrayed as the virtues needed to achieve a meaningful life. This shared philosophical dimension is analyzed by viewing the novels in light of the existentialist philosophies of Søren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Albert Camus.
Asked in 2006 about the philosophical nature of his fiction, the late American writer David Foster Wallace replied, "If some people read my fiction and see it as fundamentally about philosophical ideas, what it probably means is that these are pieces where the characters are not as alive and interesting as I meant them to be." Gesturing Toward Reality looks into this quality of Wallace's work-when the writer dons the philosopher's cap-and sees something else. With essays offering a careful perusal of Wallace's extensive and heavily annotated self-help library, re-considerations of Wittgenstein's influence on his fiction, and serious explorations into the moral and spiritual landscape where Wallace lived and wrote, this collection offers a perspective on Wallace that even he was not always ready to see. Since so much has been said in specifically literary circles about Wallace's philosophical acumen, it seems natural to have those with an interest in both philosophy and Wallace's writing address how these two areas come together.
Both Flesh and Not is an collection of essays and writing from the virtuosic genius David Foster Wallace Beloved for his brilliantly discerning eye, his verbal elasticity and his uniquely generous imagination, David Foster Wallace was heralded by critics and fans as the voice of a generation. Collected here are fifteen essays published for the first time in book form, including writing never published before in the UK. From 'Federer Both Flesh and Not', considered by many to be his non-fiction masterpiece; to 'The (As it Were) Seminal Importance of Terminator 2,' which deftly dissects James Cameron's blockbuster; to 'Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young', an examination of television's effect on a new generation of writers, the writing collected here swoops from erudite literary discussion to open-hearted engagement with the most familiar of our twentieth-century cultural references. A celebration of Wallace's great loves - for language, for precision, for meaning - and a feast of enjoyment for his fans, Both Flesh and Not is a fitting tribute to this writer who was never concerned with anything less important than what it means to be alive. Praise for David Foster Wallace: 'A visionary, a craftsman, a comedian . . . he's in a different time-space continuum from the rest of us' Zadie Smith 'Wallace's essays brim with cerebral energy, acute observation and fizzing wit. Enviably good' Sunday Times 'Wallace's exuberance and intellectual impishness are a delight . . . a superb comedian of culture' Guardian, James Wood David Foster Wallace wrote the novels Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System, and the short-story collections Oblivion, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and Girl with Curious Hair. His non-fiction includes Consider the Lobster, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Everything and More, This is Water and Both Flesh and Not. He died in 2008.
Aldous Huxley decried "the horrors of modern 'pleasure,'" or the proliferation of mass produced, widely accessible entertainment that could degrade or dull the mind. He and his contemporaries, including James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, D. H. Lawrence, and Jean Rhys, sought to radically redefine pleasure, constructing arduous and indirect paths to delight through their notoriously daunting work. Laura Frost follows these experiments in the art of unpleasure, connecting modernism's signature characteristics, such as irony, allusiveness, and obscurity, to an ambitious attempt to reconfigure bliss. In The Problem with Pleasure, Frost draws upon a wide variety of materials, linking interwar amusements, such as the talkies, romance novels, the Parisian fragrance Chanel no. 5, and the exotic confection Turkish Delight, to the artistic play of Joyce, Lawrence, Stein, Rhys, and others. She considers pop cultural phenomena and the rise of celebrities such as Rudolph Valentino and Gypsy Rose Lee against contemporary sociological, scientific, and philosophical writings on leisure and desire. Throughout her study, Frost incorporates recent scholarship on material and visual culture and vernacular modernism, recasting the period's high/low, elite/popular divides and formal strategies as efforts to regulate sensual and cerebral experience. Capturing the challenging tensions between these artists' commitment to innovation and the stimulating amusements they denounced yet deployed in their writing, Frost calls attention to the central role of pleasure in shaping interwar culture.
In 1962, the philosopher Richard Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that human beings have no control over the future. David Foster Wallace not only took issue with Taylor's methods, but also noted a semantic trick at the heart of Taylor's argument. Fate, Time, and Language presents Wallace's critique of Taylor's work. Wallace's thesis reveals his great skepticism of abstract thinking made to function as a negation of something more genuine and real. He was especially suspicious of the cerebral aestheticism of modernism and the clever gimmickry of postmodernism, which abandoned "the very old traditional human verities that have to do with spirituality and emotion and community." As Wallace rises to meet the challenge to free will presented by Taylor, we witness the developing perspective of this major novelist and his struggle to establish logical ground for his convictions. This volume, edited by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, reproduces Taylor's original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace. James Ryerson's introduction connects Wallace's early philosophical work to the themes and explorations of his later fiction, and Jay Garfield supplies a critical biographical epilogue.
Of the twelve books David Foster Wallace published both during his lifetime and posthumously, only three were novels. Nevertheless, Wallace always thought of himself primarily as a novelist. From his college years at Amherst, when he wrote his first novel as part of a creative honors thesis, to his final days, Wallace was buried in a novel project, which he often referred to as "the Long Thing." Meanwhile, the short stories and journalistic assignments he worked on during those years he characterized as "playing hooky from a certain Larger Thing." Wallace was also a specific kind of novelist, devoted to producing a specific kind of novel, namely the omnivorous, culture-consuming "encyclopedic" novel, as described in 1976 by Edward Mendelson in a ground-breaking essay on Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. David Foster Wallace and "The Long Thing" is a state-of-the art guide through Wallace's three major works, including the generation-defining Infinite Jest. These essays provide fresh new readings of each of Wallace's novels as well as thematic essays that trace out patterns and connections across the three works. Most importantly, the collection includes six chapters on Wallace's unfinished novel, The Pale King, which will prove to be foundational for future scholars of this important text.
Developing nonfiction writers at any stage of their career Write Choices: Elements of Nonfiction Storytelling helps writers cultivate their nonfiction storytelling skills by exploring the universal decisions writers confront when crafting any kind of factual narrative. Rather than isolating various forms of narrative nonfiction into categories or genres, Sue Hertz focuses on examining the common choices all true storytellers encounter, whether they are writing memoir, literary journalism, personal essays, or travel essays. And since today’s writers are no longer confined to paper, Write Choices also includes digital storytelling options, and how writers can employ technology to enhance their narratives. Integrating not only her own insights and experience as a journalist, nonfiction book author, and writing instructor, but also those of other established nonfiction storytellers, both print and digital, Hertz aims to guide writers through key decisions to tell the best story possible. Blending how-to instruction with illuminating examples and commentaries drawn from original interviews with master storytellers, Write Choices is a valuable resource for all nonfiction writers, from essayists to memoirists to literary journalists, at any stage of their career.
"Immensely illuminating and enjoyable account of a road trip along Highway 83 ... Books like [Reynold's] prove that good travel writing remains not only very much alive, but essential."—The Bookseller In Slow Road to Brownsville, David Reynolds embarks on a road trip along Highway 83, a little-known two-lane highway built in 1926 that runs from Manitoba to the Mexican border at Brownsville, Texas. Growing up in a small town in England, Reynolds was enthralled by both the myth of the Wild West and the myth of the open road. This road trip is his exploration of the reality behind these myths as he makes his way from small town to small town, gas station to gas station, and motel to motel, hanging out in bars, drinking with the locals, and observing their sometimes-peculiar customs. Reynolds also wanted to see the country where the Sioux, the Cheyenne, the Comanches, the Apaches, and other native groups lived and died and to look at how their descendants live now. He describes the forced location of the Cheyenne people, discovers the true story of the Alamo, and finds similarities between Sitting Bull’s tours and those of the Black Panthers.
David Foster Wallace's extraordinary writing on tennis, collected for the first time in an exclusive digital-original edition. A "long-time rabid fan of tennis," and a regionally ranked tennis player in his youth, David Foster Wallace wrote about the game like no one else. ON TENNIS presents David Foster Wallace's five essays on the sport, published between 1990 and 2006, and hailed as some of the greatest and most innovative sports writing of our time. This lively and entertaining collection begins with Wallace's own experience as a prodigious tennis player ("Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley"). He also challenges the sports memoir genre ("How Tracy Austen Broke My Heart"), takes us to the US Open ("Democracy and Commerce at the U.S. Open"), and profiles of two of the world's greatest tennis players ("Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff About Choice, Freedom, Limitation, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness" and "Federer Both Flesh and Not"). With infectious enthusiasm and enormous heart, Wallace's writing shows us the beauty, complexity, and brilliance of the game he loved best.