The rest is silence

America’s universities sheltered David Foster Wallace—and almost ruined his writing Julian Gough Like James Joyce, David Foster Wallace will be remembered—and, by some, fiercely loved—for a book which 99.999 per cent of the world’s population will never read to its end. Wallace hung himself in his home in California on 12th September 2008, aged 46. … Continue reading

My literary allergy

The work of David Foster Wallace brings me out in hives Geoff Dyer It’s taken years of unscientific tests, but I now accept that there is such a thing as literary allergy. This should not be confused with a negative value judgment; it is simply a reaction. With food it’s possible to be allergic to … Continue reading

One Writer’s Road Trip with Novelist David Foster Wallace

By Charlie Duerr David Foster Wallace Gary Hannabarger / Corbis In 1996 Rolling Stone sent a young writer to cover David Foster Wallace on the last leg of his book tour promoting Infinite Jest. The gargantuan novel was climbing the bestseller list and Wallace was the toast of the literary world. In his new book, … Continue reading

Unfinished Business

By Lev Grossman Marion Ettlinger/Corbis Outline Two months after the writer David Foster Wallace killed himself, his agent, accompanied by his widow, went into his garage office to look through his papers. It was Thanksgiving weekend, 2008, and the weather was cold and gray in Claremont, Calif. On Wallace’s desk they found a neat stack … Continue reading

Too Much Information

When the generation-defining writer David Foster Wallace took his own life in 2008, he left behind an unfinished novel, The Pale King, that will either serve to round out his transcendent body of writing or place a haunting question mark at the end of his career. John Jeremiah Sullivan holes up with the new book … Continue reading

Our Psychic Living Room

By  Rebekah Frumkin   Why It’s Particularly Important to Read David Foster Wallace Two years have now passed since the death of David Foster Wallace in the fall of 2008. His legacy as a writer has been the subject of nonstop debate since the day of his suicide. I’ll cut to the chase: I believe … Continue reading

Doing Everybody

Nathan Englander and Zadie Smith in conversation, January 2011 Two star novelists on bringing back wrong and right, micro and macro writing, and David Foster Wallace. Nathan Englander begins his conversation with Zadie Smith by recalling the two novelists’ first encounter, at the Capri Festival “ten thousand years ago,” and the visible reverence Smith showed … Continue reading

How novels came to terms with the internet

We spend hours on the web, but you wouldn’t know that from reading contemporary fiction. Novelists have gone to great lengths – setting stories in the past or in remote places – to avoid dealing with the internet. Is this finally changing, asks Laura Miller Laura Miller Connected … Max Minghella (left) and Armie Hammer … Continue reading

The Afterlife of David Foster Wallace

Suzy Allman, The New York Times The work of David Foster Wallace has exerted a powerful personal draw on younger scholars and on nonacademic readers. By Jennifer Howard When David Foster Wallace committed suicide, on September 12, 2008, at the age of 46, he put an abrupt and shocking end to what was already one … Continue reading

Philosophical Sweep

To understand the fiction of David Foster Wallace, it helps to have a little Wittgenstein. By James Ryerson When the future novelist David Foster Wallace was about 14 years old, he asked his father, the University of Illinois philosophy professor James D. Wallace, to explain to him what philosophy is, so that when people would … Continue reading

Fate, Time and Language

Review by Anthony Gottlieb Fate, Time and Language: An Essay on Free Will, by David Foster Wallace, Columbia University Press, RRP$19.95, 252 pages … Philosophers have long enjoyed trying to work out what exactly is wrong with fatalism. In the first century BC, Cicero reported a riddle, nicknamed “the Lazy Argument”, which goes as follows. … Continue reading

Lost libraries

The strange afterlife of authors’ book collections (iStock photo) By Craig Fehrman A few weeks ago, Annecy Liddell was flipping through a used copy of Don DeLillo’s ”White Noise” when she saw that the previous owner had written his name inside the cover: David Markson. Liddell bought the novel anyway and, when she got home, … Continue reading

Words That Shaped the Week: “Cabinet Parties,” “Javinelope,“ Etc.

by Juli Weiner For your edification, a look back at the phrases, nouns, and neologisms that have, for better or for worse, shaped the week’s national discourse. Cabinet parties [kab-uh-nit pahr-tees], noun: A social gathering of teens who ingest prescription medication and cough syrup in hopes of achieving a high; a mythical phenomenon native to … Continue reading

Common as Air

Common as Air By LEWIS HYDE Reviewed by Ward Sutton. Lewis Hyde’s seminal work The Gift, lauded by the likes of Margaret Atwood, David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Lethem, keenly examined the intersection of creativity, economics, and culture in order to construct an argument for the essentialness of art in contemporary society. Over twenty-five years … Continue reading

Smarter than You Think

By Wyatt Mason. Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky Broadway, 320 pp., $16.99 (paper) “What I would love to do is a profile of one of you guys who’s doin’ a profile of me,” David Foster Wallace told the journalist David Lipsky in … Continue reading

David Foster Wallace’s Word List

David Foster Wallace’s Word List By Juliet Lapidos Until this week, I had no idea what pleach meant. I don’t recall ever having seen the word or having heard it spoken. Same goes for recrudesce and tabanid. I came across this new vocabulary while scanning the complete list of words that David Foster Wallace circled … Continue reading

What David Foster Wallace Circled in His Dictionary

A complete list, courtesy of the Ransom Center. Below you’ll find the complete list of words that David Foster Wallace circled in his American Heritage Dictionary. Many thanks to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas-Austin for providing us with the list. (To learn more about the Ransom Center’s Wallace archive, click here.) … Continue reading

David Foster Wallace Archive

News Release — March 9, 2010 David Foster Wallace Archive Acquired by Harry Ransom Center AUSTIN, Texas—The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, has acquired the archive of writer David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), author of “Infinite Jest” (1996), “The Broom of the System” (1987), “Girl … Continue reading

David Foster Wallace’s Word List

David Foster Wallace’s Word List Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 11:30 AM | By Juliet Lapidos Until this week, I had no idea what pleach meant. I don’t recall ever having seen the word or having heard it spoken. Same goes for recrudesce and tabanid. I came across this new vocabulary while scanning the complete … Continue reading

On Beauty

Against Beauty Adam Kirsch One of the running jokes in On Beauty, Zadie Smith’s third novel, is that its main character is philosophically opposed to beauty. Howard Belsey is a professor of art history at Wellington College, and like all middle-aged professors in campus novels, he is a ludicrous figure–unfaithful to his wife, disrespected by … Continue reading