The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Desperately Seeking David: Authorship in the Early Works of David Foster Wallace

Great new piece about DFW and authorship by Mike Miley over at Orbit: A Journal of American Literature, Desperately Seeking David: Authorship in the Early Works of David Foster Wallace:

"However, several stories in Girl not commonly discussed in Wallace scholarship experiment with another, more present and intimate mode of authorship. Stories such as “Lyndon” and “Here and There” gesture toward the necessity of clear and distinct boundaries between author and influence, author and text, author and character, author and reader. Rather than seeking to dissolve borders, as his authorial pose can at times appear to endorse, the authorial mode Wallace arrives at in Girl preserves these borders. What must change is the stance of the author to their role. Instead of approaching the reader as a kind of conquest to be overpowered or absorbed into the author, the author must regard the reader as another subject eager to engage in dialogue with another, equally present and engaged, human being, however imperfect or impossible such a dialogue may be. By the end of these works, Wallace advocates for an authorial presence that rejects gimmicky authorial masks and dead authors and instead develops an author figure whose persona is convex, reaching outward toward the reader in hope of colliding with them rather than absorbing them."

Read it in full here.


Remembering James D. Wallace

"James Donald Wallace, 82, passed away peacefully at home in Tempe, Ariz., surrounded by his family, on Sunday, July 7, 2019."

Extending my deepest condolences to the family and friends of James D. Wallace.

James D. Wallace - The News-Gazette

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 August 2019 12:38

DFW Questions on Hard Quiz

I received a text message with about one minute to spare before Hard Quiz ( this link probably won't work outside of Australia unless you use a vpn) screened on Australian television earlier in the week. The host, Tom Gleeson, won the Gold Logie for Australian television under slighty controversial/amusing circumstances.

Hard Quiz is a silly show that is mostly a vehicle for Tom Gleeson to insult the contestants, but it was fun to watch and live tweet the answers. There's no way I would have done well without all my Wallace stuff in the same room, I'm terrible at quiz things.

If you want to see view episode, a tweet from Tim Eastwood ‏@comes_aTime contained a link to view it online. (Thanks, Tim!)

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 August 2019 12:28

The Great Concavity Podcast - 2019 so far

I haven't posted about the show since episode 39 (sorry!) and what a run they are having!

Shout outs to Greg Carlisle (Ep 40), Tim Personn (Ep 41), Esther J. Cepeda (Ep 42) and Bo Butler (Ep 43 - AMAZING ep. that had me pulling my Pynchon books back off the shelf!)

I was so impressed by this run of episodes I signed up as a Patreon supporter. You should too - so worth it.

I have the Kyle Beachy ep (45) queued up and ready to go!

(The 2018 year in review ep is fun too.)


(Follow the show on twitter @ConcavityShow and subscribe to the podcast here)


The Journal of DFW Studies - Issue 1

Happy new year everyone!

The International David Foster Wallace Society has been super busy over the last two years and the result is Vol 1., Issue 1 of The Journal of David Foster Wallace Studies:

(Check out the merch!)

I know there have been questions about the availability of Issue 1 (particularly for people who were not members before seeing all the nice images of the first print run on social media channels). The IDFWS is actively talking about reprinting Issue 1 of the journal so watch this space and follow the channel(s) below to keep up to date.

Don't miss out - follow (or join!) The International David Foster Wallace Society:






(Oh, do you have any experience copy editing? The International David Foster Wallace Society would like to hear from you.)

Last Updated on Monday, 21 January 2019 09:05

We Must Feel The Sadness In Our Lives - Allison Bonnell Remembers

Allison Bonnell, a long-time reader of The Howling Fantods, reached out and offered a remembrance piece. It's great.

Thank you, Allison.

Here it is:

I remember when I discovered that David Foster Wallace had passed away. I began reading Infinite Jest on a whim in 2013, and I didn’t know very much about the novel’s reputation. I went into it expecting a good book, but by page 87 I knew that I had stumbled upon something otherworldly. Even now, its hard to describe how I felt when I read the book for the first time. Something lit up within me. I’d never before been so struck by someone’s words. I instantly knew that literature had changed. Whatever books were before, they weren’t now.

My next thought was that I needed to speak to the writer behind the massive volume I spent my summer on. At the time, I had no idea who he was or what else he had written. I just knew I had to write to him and tell him something. I didn’t know exactly what I would say, but I couldn’t go on with life pretending that he hadn’t just upended everything I thought words could be. In my naiveté, I got the idea that I – a 16-year-old high school student who wasn’t even as old as Hal Incandenza – could simply write to David Foster Wallace. I didn’t think he would reply. But I somehow managed to believe that if I could just get my thoughts down on paper and send him a letter explaining how much the book had touched me, he would read it, and he would know. I felt an intense urgency in my task; I kept thinking, “there’s no way someone makes this kind of art and you just don’t tell them what it did to you.

One afternoon in 2013, shortly before the fifth anniversary of his passing, I typed his name into Google in search of a publisher’s address through which he could be reached. I started to read his Wikipedia page, pleased to learn that he had been the recipient of several prestigious literary grants. When I came across the date of his death, I was stricken. It took me several moments to process the fact that the person whose voice was so close that it seemed to breathe on the pages in front of me - whose words created a lopsided intimacy within the footnotes of a story that felt breathtakingly, heartbreakingly, real - was no longer alive.

Of course, I only knew the author, and not the person. And I never experienced his death in the way so many readers did, through the anguish and sorrow that followed September 2008. But sitting there in my bedroom, I was at a loss. Deep within David Foster Wallace’s work, I had found a promise. Here was this writer – a writer who changed what writing could be – and his work felt close, steady, and above all, imbued with life. There had to be more to come. But suddenly, there wasn’t.

His work came to me in words, and after I learned of his death, he always seemed to leave words behind, too. The questions piled up: what were we supposed to do with everything that he had left us? What did it mean to explore authenticity, identity, and contemporary life in the wake of his death? Where did that leave me, and other readers who - while they may not have seen him as a lost generation’s sole beacon of light - would admit that he had startlingly poignant insight into the challenges that many of us felt most plagued by? I experienced his loss as a building up of ideas, emotions, and observations that were born of his work but felt severed by his absence. On the fifth anniversary of his passing, I remember wondering whether I could fully participate in a world that he had chosen to leave behind.

Since then, however, so much has happened. The academic community that exists around his writing has only increased in vibrancy, diversity, and breadth. I’ve had the privilege of meeting two writers that David Foster Wallace worked alongside, Zadie Smith and David Lipsky. But above all, I’ve been fortunate to feel a sort of sacredness when I speak about his work with other readers. Our mutual understanding creates a space between us - a closeness that mimics the heartbeat of his prose – that gives our ideas someplace to go. We’ve inherited a sort of project from him, a way of reading and thinking and looking at the world, and we’re stewards of this quietly profound legacy. We’re still keeping the promise that we found on his pages.

Today, I look back on David Foster Wallace’s life, and there’s still so much to say. There are moments when I’ll flip through highlighted passages in Infinite Jest or pick up Oblivion and be struck once again with that urgent need to write to him. To let him know the way his work opened up my world and continues to influence the kind of person I want to become. To tell him that clouds will never be just clouds and buildings never just buildings. That I have a strange fondness for the American Midwest even though I’ve never been there. That I met the most fantastic person I’ve ever known because of our mutual love for Enfield Tennis Academy. That ten years after he passed away, his words just keep on living.

Above all, there’s one very important thing that David Foster Wallace has taught me. It’s that we must feel the sadness in our lives – the sorrow in the air that tastes distinctly North American, the disconnection and depression that follow us around, and the moments of bored loneliness that often still categorize middle-class life. And yet instead of citing these phenomena as reasons to pack up and opt for spiritual hibernation, I recall the startling vitality in David Foster Wallace’s work. Its there, glowing and pulsing, on every page. It screams and it whispers, it nudges gently and pulls abruptly. But it always calls us towards a radical embrace of life, revealing the intricacy of the mundane and the abundant totality of human experience. Of course, this sentiment is best expressed through the words of David Foster Wallace himself, who once noted that he, “wanted to write stuff about what it feels like to live…instead of being a break from [it]”1. I will be forever grateful that he did.


1 Lipsky, D. (2008, October 30). The lost years and last days of David Foster Wallace. The Rolling Stone.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2018 01:25
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