The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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These Words Will Appear Across the Front of My English Classroom.

My good friend Matt Barry [previously] sent me numerous enthusiastic texts and emails while he was reading Quack This Way so I asked him to write something brief about it for me:

Quack This Way is an excellent book.

Adroitness, precision, economy and clarity. These words will appear in heavily bolded font on posters across the front of my English classroom. These are the terms Wallace discusses with Garner that makes for impactful writing. Throughout the interview Wallace attempts to explain his frustrations at the differences between what is good writing against what is perceived as good writing. His annoyance on the over reliance of abstraction, wordiness, over complication and jargon, particularly in the professional sector, is refreshingly clear.

And this is what comes through the entire interview. Wallace’s directness and clarity, not always found in his writing, when discussing the writing process and the ideas of writing as communication rather than expression allows you to better understand his work and even identify flaws or successes immediately in your own writing. Wallace and Garner have an obvious respect for each other which allows the conversation to be both natural and technical. This IS Wallace’s voice, relaxed, humorous and direct, something which was seemingly difficult to capture in an interview.  It does sadly, in a way, make Wallace seem as if he is alive again. It certainly made me wish he was my teacher.

As an English Teacher, I have made a page of instructions Wallace gives throughout the interview to share with my students, which if heeded, will make their writing and my reading improve dramatically. Understanding at 15 that the reader doesn’t want to read about me, rather than communicate with me, would have saved many of my teachers and lecturers from reading what Wallace calls “almost well-structured diary entries which say this is me, this is me!”

Garner’s Quack This Way is a book about Wallace, the teacher and student. Easy to read, easy to process. Simple and clean. He would have appreciated that.


Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 10:42

Reading DFW Led Me Back to Studying the Talmud

Interesting. Joesph Winkler's essay for Tablet, Reading David Foster Wallace Led Me Back to Studying the Talmud:

David Foster Wallace rekindled my love of Talmud.

To be more exact, the realization of the Talmudic nature of David Foster Wallace let me see that I never truly left the world of the Talmud; I’d just transmuted that experience into an obsession with literature, and specifically with him.

As an obsessive fanboy of the deceased author, I was asked to speak at a meeting of the David Foster Wallace Appreciation Society at the WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn last February about how I first came to love him. In preparing for this small shiur on Wallace, I came to the sudden and convincing realization of the Talmudic nature of his works and thought: Like the commentaries on commentaries in the Talmud, Wallace wrote footnotes on footnotes. In his works, ideas lead to more and stranger, seemingly digressive ideas; and like the Talmud, Wallace finds meaning in the apparently irrelevant and idiosyncratic particulars of life. (The comparisons could go on. Just look at the layout of this Wallace essay and compare its appearance to this page of Talmud.) I realized how, in my religious development, I’d simply gone from one Talmud to the next. Appreciating this comparison reopened the wound I’d had since leaving Talmud behind, and I could no longer shake the ache of longing for a life of Talmudic study.

(Continue reading)




The ‘Conservative’ DFW?

James Santel's essay for The Hudson Review, On David Foster Wallace’s Conservatism:

[...] However, Wallace’s writing—including Both Flesh and Not,[5] the first posthumous collection of Wallace’s essays, which appeared in 2012—reminds us that another politically-tinged strain was present in Wallace’s work, running counter to the collective possibilities implied by The Pale King. Wallace’s writing did indeed frequently express the hope that human beings could transcend the limits of selfhood and language to reach one another in meaningful ways. But it was a hope severely curbed by his bedrock belief that true empathy is impossible, a belief most clearly expressed in his nonfiction, where it often took the form of a small-c conservatism, a deference to individual choice that arises from the inevitability of solipsism and isolation. What makes Wallace’s conservatism particularly disheartening is the extent to which it suggests he had difficulty placing his faith not only in other human beings, but also in the art form at which he was so obviously gifted, an art form in many ways predicated on sociability. [...]

(Continue reading)

Also, Rod Dreher responds over at The American Conservative, The ‘Conservative’ David Foster Wallace?





Sony Pictures Gains Rights to End of the Tour

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Picks Up ‘The End Of The Tour’, Starring Jason Segel & Jesse Eisenberg:

A week after Kilburn Media came aboard to finance The End Of The Tour, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has picked up rights for multiple territories to the pic at Berlin.

[via Deadline]

Previously, The End of the Tour - Opinion Round-Up.


Infinite Wallace - Paris Conference Program

Infinite Wallace Conference - Paris September 2014

The Infinite Wallace Conference Program is out and it looks amazing.

It will be difficult to sit here in Australia knowing this is happening on the other side of the world... super keen for reports and live-blogging. If you're interested in helping out with some DFW reportage let me know.


Last Updated on Friday, 07 February 2014 16:55

Infinite Boston - Full Podcast of Show

You can now listen to the podcast of The Radio Open Source David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, and Boston, Infinite Boston, which aired on 90.9 wbur at 9pm Thursday (rebroadcast 2pm Sunday).

Listen to Infinite Boston.

Additional/extended material:

Sven Birkerts: Present at the Creation of “Infinite Jest”

The Infinite Boston Tour

D.T. Max on David Foster Wallace’s Boston

(Also, listen out for proof that my 2:30am maths skills are... problematic. Vox pop from me at the top of the show claiming I read Infinite Jest 19 years ago. ie. before it was published.)

Last Updated on Friday, 31 January 2014 18:23

Radio Open Source - 9pm Tonight - Preview Now

The Radio Open Source show about David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, and Boston, Infinite Boston, airs at 9pm tonight on 90.9 wbur (rebroadcast 2pm Sunday).

A preview of the episode can be found here, D.T. Max on David Foster Wallace’s Boston.


Also, check out Reddit's /r/literature for a conversation leading to this episode of radio open source.

Last Updated on Friday, 31 January 2014 00:46

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