The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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DFW's Sports Writing

Check out a round table over at The Morning News about sports writing, Paper Tigers, where David Foster Wallace's contributions end up getting quite a mention, including:
Katie Baker: [...] But the piece that grabbed me and never let go is “The String Theory” by David Foster Wallace, which is ostensibly about a young professional tennis player named Michael Joyce qualifying for a tournament but is really about T-shirts and physics and IQ and exponents and how much Wallace hates Agassi (“his domination…doesn’t make me like him any better; it’s more like it chills me, as if I’m watching the devil play.”) It’s the glorious opposite of the sport’s typically bubbly coverage. When you’re reading Wallace, tennis has never been more relatable or more melancholy. “The applause of a tiny crowd,” Wallace writes, “is so small and sad and tattered-sounding that it’d almost be better if people didn’t clap at all.”
Nic Brown: [...] But my favorite is going to have to be “Federer as Religious Experience,” the essay David Foster Wallace published in the New York Times Magazine in 2006, concerning—of course—the tennis star Roger Federer. It wasn’t until well after reading it that I realized Wallace wrote the entire piece without ever once interviewing the subject. I think it was his most generous work—to himself, and to the reader. It seemed like he was having fun, not something I associate with much else of his work. He also just knew so much about the subject and was so damn smart that it made every sentence leap screaming off the page. Again, the piece was excellent because it was really about beauty, obsession, precision, and the mysteries of the human condition. It just also happened to be about tennis as well.

Sam Mendes on DFW

Here's a Charlie Rose interview with Sam Mendes where they end up discussing David Foster Wallace (Jump to the 23 minute mark for a lead in to the bit about DFW).

Biographer Requests Letters

Reminder Post:
D.T. Max (of the March 09 New Yorker article, The Unfinished) is currently working on a biography of David Foster Wallace and he's requested your help. If you can, I encourage you to help out:

"I'm working on a biography of David Foster Wallace for Viking Press. If you ever spent time with Wallace or he ever sent you a letter or postcard, I'd like to hear from you. Please contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Thank you, Daniel Max"
(This will pop-up once a week for the next few weeks as a reminder, it would be great if any of you are able to help out)
Last Updated on Sunday, 11 July 2010 16:43

University of Rochester Production

Looks like the University of Rochester is going to be performing a production based on David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men over the Meliora Weekend (14-17 Oct 2010). Full Schedule.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 July 2010 17:36

Philadelphia Slick Music Video

Philadelphia Slick got in touch to let me know about their neat music video for their track Everything Must Go - the video draws from David Foster Wallace's short story from Oblivion: Stories, Mr. Squishy. Check it out over at YouTube.

Bret Easton Ellis on DFW

A question answered by Bret Easton Ellis during his appearance at the Southbank Centre:
Question: David Foster Wallace – as an American writer, what is your opinion now that he has died?

Answer: Is it too soon? It’s too soon right? Well i don’t rate him. The journalism is pedestrian, the stories scattered and full of that Mid-Western faux-sentimentality and Infinite Jest is unreadable. His life story and his battle with depression however is really quite touching…


Jan-Erik over at wallace-l reminded me about Larry McCaffery's 1993 interview with David Foster Wallace:

LM: In your own case, how does this hostility manifest itself?

DFW: Oh, not always, but sometimes in the form of sentences that are syntactically not incorrect but still a real bitch to read. Or bludgeoning the reader with data. Or devoting a lot of energy to creating expectations and then taking pleasure in disappointing them. You can see this clearly in something like Ellis’s "American Psycho": it panders shamelessly to the audience’s sadism for a while, but by the end it’s clear that the sadism’s real object is the reader herself.

LM: But at least in the case of "American Psycho" I felt there was something more than just this desire to inflict pain—or that Ellis was being cruel the way you said serious artists need to be willing to be.

DFW: You’re just displaying the sort of cynicism that lets readers be manipulated by bad writing. I think it’s a kind of black cynicism about today’s world that Ellis and certain others depend on for their readership. Look, if the contemporary condition is hopelessly shitty, insipid, materialistic, emotionally retarded, sadomasochistic, and stupid, then I (or any writer) can get away with slapping together stories with characters who are stupid, vapid, emotionally retarded, which is easy, because these sorts of characters require no development. With descriptions that are simply lists of brand-name consumer products. Where stupid people say insipid stuff to each other. If what’s always distinguished bad writing—flat characters, a narrative world that’s cliched and not recognizably human, etc.—is also a description of today’s world, then bad writing becomes an ingenious mimesis of a bad world. If readers simply believe the world is stupid and shallow and mean, then Ellis can write a mean shallow stupid novel that becomes a mordant deadpan commentary on the badness of everything. Look man, we’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it. You can defend "Psycho" as being a sort of performative digest of late-eighties social problems, but it’s no more than that.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 14:28

The David Show: More on Lipsky's DFW

Peter Ames Carlin writes about AOCYEUBY over at his blog in The David Show: More on David Lipsky's David Foster Wallace:
It's not like Lipsky doesn't know what's going on. DFW is flirting with him, subject-to-journalist. DFW is extremely flattered by the attention -- despite all of his better intentions -- and is extremely, almost dysfunctionally, eager to see himself look cool in the pages of Rolling Stone. Lipsky offers these observations in brackets, along with his own self-lacerating notes about his own behavior and motivations. He's got a tremendous writer crush on this guy, who is almost exactly his age, has almost all of the same experiences but is just. . . better, in nearly every way. 

The Howling Fantods