The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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LA Times Review of Lipsky Book

Scott Esposito's LA Times review, A reporter and David Foster Wallace go on a road trip in 1996, recording their discussions, about David Lipsky's new book is a mixed one. He notes:
To be sure, Wallace fans will devour the quips and behind-the-scenes stories found throughout the book. It's a rare look at the reclusive author in all his mundanity: berating his dogs for defecating on the rug, telling waiters that he and Lipsky aren't on a date (because he fears homophobic Midwesterners) and repeatedly spilling his can full of tobacco spittle. Wallace's folksy-but-erudite run-on sentences will be familiar to anyone who's read him, and they lend his presence a delightful immediacy and authenticity.
But also:
Compared with his 2008 Rolling Stone piece on Wallace -- a perceptive deconstruction of the author's suicide in which Lipsky synthesizes quotes from these tapes, original research and interviews with Wallace's family and friends -- "Although of Course" feels half-baked. Though these interviews will be manna to fans and biographers (and the latter group, especially, can be glad that Lipsky held onto these tapes), there's not enough here on which to hang a book.
I guess it depends what you expect from a book that doesn't portray itself as anything other than a five day interview with David Foster Wallace. It was exactly what I expected, and I enjoyed every moment of it. 

Kathleen Fitzpatrick's Lipsky Book Review

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, an associate Professor at Pomona College, has written a personal review of David Lipsky's book about her late colleague, David Foster Wallace. It's interesting because she compares the David in the book to the David she knew and worked with:
But -- and there's no way to say this other than straight out -- the voice here is not that of the David I knew. Early on in the interview, of course, the difference is that he knows he's on stage; in moments like his banter about getting laid during the book tour, what we get is David performing, rather than David talking. David with all his defenses up, David doing a certain kind of PR dance. But even later in his time with Lipsky, once the performative aspect subsides, the voice on the page is still that of a different person from the one I knew.
(Previously from Kathleen about DFW, Requiescat in Pace)

The Lectern's Infinite Jest Notes and Errata

Some extensive commentary on Infinite Jest over at The Lectern today,read the Notes and Errata here.

Infinite Jest on the iPad

Hannah Elliot over at posts her experience with Infinite Jest on the iPad, My Worst Nightmare: David Foster Wallace on iPad.

On James Wood's DFW Criticism

Howling Fantods reader Jared Killeen also attended the James Wood - David Foster Wallace evening at 92Y (previously) and asked if I'd be interested in his more detailed reflection. I was, and here it is for your reading pleasure. Jared's article is an extensive and insightful look at the evening with a specific focus on David Foster Wallace criticism and some particularly interesting observations about the audience and Wood's response. It's great. Read it below, and be sure to follow it after the jump.

In addtion, Judd Staley (one of the organisers for the Footnotes DFW conference in NYC last year), posted his take on events to wallace-l, and with his permission, his tidied up version is gladly posted after Jared's below.

It is with great pleasure that I present these two pieces.


First, Jared Killeen:

Last week James Wood, literary critic for The New Yorker, delivered remarks on David Foster Wallace’s short-story collection Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. The lecture, part of the Unterberg Poetry Center’s modest ‘First Reads’ program, in which a notable author or critic examines an unfamiliar work of fiction before communicating his opinion to an audience, was held at the 92ndStreet Y’s Buttenwieser Hall. Wood, being both a notable author and critic, was well suited for the job, though his famous disparagement of the “overblown” American novel had at least one attendee worried that Wallace—not known for his brevity—might be treated roughly.

Perhaps Wallace’s fans worry over him because he so rarely receives tempered criticism; he is either dismissed outright, or lauded by admirers, some of whom pass off thinly concealed praise as academic analysis. The latter phenomenon only discredits Wallace scholarship, suggesting a lack of rigor and integrity where objective criticism is required. Wood’s lecture, delivered over an hour and a half—with time allotted for audience Q & A—helped lend creditability to the ongoing critical appraisal of Wallace, indicating that while he is a flawed writer, he is one of considerable importance.

[Continued after the break]

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 April 2010 08:51

Lipsky Book Comp Almost Over

I'll post here once I'm no longer accepting entries for the competition (which will be until it is no longer April 7th anywhere in the world). So if you'd like the chance to win one of 6 copies of David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself : A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace (one of them signed) then get your entries in ASAP.
Click here for Competition Details and the entry email address.

DFW and the Democratic Dreams of the Internet

Now that more and more people have read preview copies of David Lipsky's book some of the more interesting passages are beginning to float to the surface. For example, Scott McLemee quotes at length over at an extremely interesting statement from David Foster Wallace about the future of the internet. McLemee heard about the book when Mark Athitakis (who posted a great Q&A with Lipsky) read the quote at a panel, NBCC, The Next Decade in Book Culture (from around 4:45 in the vimeo vid).
So the quote itself concerns the future direction of the internet from DFW's point of view, way back in 1996, and it's pretty interesting stuff. Here's part of it (check out McLemee's post for more):

Because this idea that the Internet’s gonna become incredibly democratic? I mean, if you’ve spent any time on the Web, you know that it’s not gonna be, because that’s completely overwhelming. There are four trillion bits coming at you, 99 percent of them are shit, and it’s too much work to do triage to decide.

So it’s very clearly, very soon there’s gonna be an economic niche opening up for gatekeepers. You know? Or, what do you call them, wells, or various nexes. Not just of interest but of quality. And then things get real interesting. And we will beg for those things to be there. Because otherwise we’re gonna spend 95 percent of our time body-surfing through shit.
The comments/discussion at are already quite interesting, the first thing I thought of, like some others (and not DFW), are websites that have community ranking/voting systems - thus the gatekeeper is not a single entity but the community itself. I'm drawn to sites such as Reddit, Slashdot (one of the first communities to function in this way), and Digg because they contribute to my personal filtration system for the web. NewsTrust is an example of this kind of community ranking being used for journalism - it's a great site.
More from Scott McLemee on David Foster Wallace can be found in On the Road, an article about DFW, and the Texas archive, and David Lipsky's book.
Also, Zach Baron's review of the Lipsky book.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 April 2010 22:28

The Howling Fantods