Great interview by Stephanie Palumbo with Michael Schur in the most recent issue of The Believer which covers all manner of things including significant content about David Foster Wallace. Michael Schur is a big DFW fan who directed the Decemberists' Eschaton inspired vid clip back in in 2011 and has referenced DFW in his TV show Parks and Recreation [previously]. He also optioned the rights to Infinite Jest. Stephanie Palumbo asks him about all this and more in her interview:
BLVR: I know you’re a David Foster Wallace fan, and to me the idea of battling alienation by being kind to other people is at the core of Infinite Jest. Do you think Infinite Jest has influenced your writing?
MS: It’s not a stretch to say that it’s influenced everything I’ve ever written. I didn’t so much read it as I almost ate it. It kind of rescrambled my brain. Not just that book—I read more of him and actually met and corresponded with him for a while. One of his deeply held convictions was that sincerity should triumph over irony. He loved the gamesmanship and wordplay of the postmodern kind of irony, but his point was that, ultimately, sincerity should win the day, and the problem is that sincerity, especially for young people, is the opposite of cool. There’s nothing less cool to a twenty-five-year-old fiction writer in Brooklyn than to simply and straightforwardly talk about your feelings. The scariest possible thing that you can engage in is this very basic human connection where you say, “I feel this way,” or “I am scared,” and his worldview was: that’s what has to win; that’s how people should write; and that’s how people should connect with each other. The first time I read those words from him—and he said them a lot more eloquently than I just did—it was like someone had punched me in the face. I instantly realized so much of what was wrong with me as a writer was that I was trying to be cool and impress people and not seem like I cared about anything. It’s very hard to wear your heart on your sleeve as a writer, because we live in a world where your work is being instantly analyzed and picked apart by a lot of people, and a lot of those people are very cool, and they have a cool-guy agenda, and it’s a real fight to do it and not worry about what people are going to think of you. I am eternally grateful to Amy Poehler, because without studying the works of David Foster Wallace, she had the worldview that you have to go out there and lay it all on the line and not worry about what people think. The creation of Leslie Knope would not have been possible without her, and I don’t think it would have been possible without me reading David Foster Wallace.
Read the full interview with Michael Schur in the most recent issue of The Believer here.