The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Why Some Hard Books are Worth Reading

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Evana Ho (regular contributor to ACTWrite, the ACT Writers Centre’s monthly member magazine) because she was reading Infinite Jest in 30 days and planning to write about the experience. I agreed to an interview and we ended up meeting at The National Library of Australia to share my experiences reading the novel. Just like pretty much any time I end up discussing Wallace with someone (regardless of how well I know them), time flew by.

A month later and the article, Why Some Hard Books are Worth Reading or How I Read Infinite Jest in 30 Days, has now appeared in the August 2013 issue of ACTWrite.

I would read, and write about reading, Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace. And I would read it in 30 days, which was how long I had to write this article.

Ordinarily, 30 days would be more than enough time to read a single book. But this isn’t an ordinary book. Printed in 8 point font, it spans 1,079 pages, including 96 pages of “endnotes and errata” in even smaller print. Infinite Jest jumps back and forth chronologically, features a massive cast of interconnected characters, and is best read using two bookmarks and with the Oxford English Dictionary secure in your lap.

Read it here: Why Some Hard Books are Worth Reading or How I Read Infinite Jest in 30 Days by Evana Ho.

[Thanks, Evana!]

Last Updated on Friday, 09 August 2013 01:44

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Audio of 2003 Wallace Interview Surfaces

Caleb Crain has released the complete audio from his 2003 Boston Globe interview with David Foster Wallace, Approaching Infinity, (a version of the interview was also collected in Conversations with David Foster Wallace).

Some amazing stuff here. The preamble to the interview is a fantastic insight into how Wallace dealt with interviews in general.

Caleb Crain writes:

On 17 October 2003, I interviewed David Foster Wallace at New York’s Park South Hotel about his book Everything and More: A Compact History of ∞, which was then just being published. A week later, a condensed and edited version of the interview was published in the Boston Globe, a version that has since been reprinted in Stephen J. Burn’s Conversations with David Foster Wallace.

After Wallace died in September 2008, I went back to my transcript of the original interview and posted on this blog a few passages that I hadn’t been able to shoehorn in to the published version, including some to-and-fro about God and infinity that verged on the mystical. I intended even then to make audio files of the interview available some day, but at the time, I was a bit shy about the fact that during the interview, Wallace briefly turned the tables and spent a few minutes interviewing me (fortunately, he let me turn the tape recorder off for most of those minutes). Also, it turned out to be trickier than I expected to connect an old-fashioned cassette player to a newfangled laptop. In fact I didn’t figure out the proper Radio Shack doohickey until a few days ago.

Continue reading and grab the audio here.

Other David Foster Wallace interviews can be found here.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 July 2013 01:36

Why You Should Read David Foster Wallace's Book on Rap

In response to Signifying Rappers being re-released in the US and the UK Alexander Nazaryan's makes a case for reading it in an article for The Atlantic Wire, White Boy Beats: Why You Should Read David Foster Wallace's Book on Rap:

A book about rap written a quarter century ago by two very white guys has tremendous potential to be embarrassing. I am happy to report that Signifying Rappers did not make me cringe a single time, though I did have to look up both cultural references (Schooly D) and words from DFW’s famously capacious lexicon (epiclesis; seriously, Dave?). It is also probably the only book about popular music to seriously discuss the origins of synecdochal imagery.

At heart, this book has heart. Its message is simple and humane. “Rap is poetry,” Costello writes in the introduction — a poetry of protest, that is, speaking to what Wallace calls later in the book (the two write in alternating chapters) “the carcinomoid Other…inside Us” that frightens “Concerned Citizens” who do not want to hear about the macabre imagery of what Wallace and Costello call “Hard Rap.”

Continue reading White Boy Beats: Why You Should Read David Foster Wallace's Book on Rap

Last Updated on Friday, 26 July 2013 02:04

9 Hours Left

Update: It didn't make the target. Thanks to everyone who supported the campaign.

9 hours left to make the Kickstarter drive for the film of David Foster Wallace's OBLIVION by Francesco Marchione reality.

I'm a backer.

If every daily visitor to The Howling Fantods contributed $50 this project would make its goal easily.

Francesco Marchione has the rights, and is ready to go on what looks to be a great production.

Contribute here.


Last Updated on Monday, 29 July 2013 01:47

Oblivion Film Kickstarter Hits $10,000

Update: 33 hours to go... time to contribute if you were planning to.

One third of the way there!

The Kickstarter drive for the film of David Foster Wallace's OBLIVION by Francesco Marchione is in its final week and has just hit the $10,000 mark.

Now is the time to contribute if you were thinking about helping us fund this film.

Watch the video to get a feel for how just much work has already been done in pre-production.

Don't forget that some of the funding levels are for advanced copies of Greg Carlisle's (author of Elegant Complexity) upcoming book about Oblivion, Nature's Nightmare Analyzing: David Foster Wallace's Oblivion!

David Foster Wallace's OBLIVION on Kickstarter.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 July 2013 01:11

Signifying Rappers - UK Print and Cover


The US reprint is finally released tomorrow 23/7/13 (UK August 1st, see below) if you've not managed to track down an old copy.


I really enjoyed this when I first read it back when I was consuming everything DFW had written. It now has a Penguin imprint and a flash new cover in the UK. Absolutely worth picking up if you haven't already.

Buy Signifying Rappers from now.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 00:39

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