I am currently quite eager to read one of the first collections of essays on DFW coming out next month, Consider David Foster Wallace: Critical Essays, edited by David Hering, specifically an essay on what is being called the “new sincerity” by Adam Kelly. I feel the DFW that gets read the most—his novel(s) and his journalism—continually hint at or give great meaningful gestures toward sincerity, but perhaps b/c of their form never really achieve what so many of his short stories do so devastatingly, howling-fantod-inspiringly well: they are un-dauntingly sincere. Painful sincerity. So sincere that reading the deep ironies of something like John Barth’s much anthologized “Lost in the Funhouse” acts like a kind of balm. For the sensitive summer soul, the cold analysis of Wittgenstein is far preferable to the at times crushing-lack-of-irony in some of DFW’s short fiction. Esp. when one reads story after story of people who simply cannot connect w/ one another, for every reason under the sun; or else people who are almost supernaturally connected and subsequently get dramatically, heart-wrenchingly sundered from one another. Basically, where’s Paul de Man when you need him?
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