The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Final Week of Infinite Winter

Wow, Infinite Winter is in its final week. That flew!

It's wrap-up / reflection post time and there are many posts worth heading over to the Infinite Winter site to read. Of note, is Matt Bucher's piece, Living with Infinite Jest for 20 Years (so much of it is quote worthy - just read it all):


Infinite Jest survives partly because it still speaks to how things are now. We can only guess how long society and the novel will hold this sort of equilibrium. It might seem quaintly outdated by 2036 or even more relevant. In 1997, it was somewhat difficult to find another soul who’d actually read the whole of Infinite Jest. That’s part of why we treasured those early group reads. Now, it’s much more likely that any serious reader I meet has either read the book or has a good story about why they haven’t or can’t, but they all know it. For years after his death I was reluctant to admit that Wallace’s suicide played a central role in his new-found fame or even brought in hordes of new readers. My reply would be “Well maybe, but so…” And yet by now there is no question that people who had never heard of Wallace prior to 2008 picked up his books because they heard about his suicide, his commencement address, or saw Jason Segel in that role. As the scale of readership has increased, so have the number of homages, side projects, and tributes. Yes, there are more poseurs, more articles to read, more backlash, more politics to negotiate, but all of that is outweighed, in my humble opinion, by the good and honorable and ultimately more lasting stuff effected by and from new readers.


Continue reading Matt's piece, Living with Infinite Jest for 20 Years, here.


Oh, I wrote a little something too - Coming Full Circle.

(Watercolour - Nathan Seppelt)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 May 2016 15:46

String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis

Hardcover release next week on May 10th 2016:

String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis: A Library of America Special Publication, fresh (physical) release of Wallace's tennis essays with an introduction by John Jeremiah Sullivan.

A version of the introduction was published in The New Yorker recently as, David Foster Wallace's Perfect Game:


David Foster Wallace wrote about tennis because life gave it to him—he had played the game well at the junior level—and because he was a writer who in his own way made use of wilder days, turning relentlessly in his work to the stuff of his own experience. But the fact of the game in his biography came before any thought of its use as material. At least I assume that’s the case. It can be amazing how early in life some writers figure out what they are and start to see their lives as stories that can be controlled. It is perhaps not far-fetched to imagine Wallace’s noticing early on that tennis is a good sport for literary types and purposes. It draws the obsessive and brooding. It is perhaps the most isolating of games. Even boxers have a corner, but in professional tennis it is a rules violation for your coach to communicate with you beyond polite encouragement, and spectators are asked to keep silent while you play. Your opponent is far away, or, if near, is indifferently hostile. It may be as close as we come to physical chess, or a kind of chess in which the mind and body are at one in attacking essentially mathematical problems. So, a good game not just for writers but for philosophers, too. The perfect game for Wallace.


Continue reading David Foster Wallace's Perfect Game, and if you wish support this website by pre-ordering String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis: A Library of America Special Publication from Amazon.


Last Updated on Sunday, 22 May 2016 17:32

Proofread or Die!: Writings by Former Students & Colleagues of DFW

I have no idea what this is like, but it's out now (hit up the comments if you've checked it out).

Proofread or Die!: Writings by Former Students & Colleagues of David Foster Wallace.

"The contributions in this anthology reflect the aesthetic breadth that David fostered in his classrooms. They represent multiple genres—fiction, nonfiction, even a play—and a range of voices, styles, and forms. A handful of the contributions in the anthology have been published elsewhere, in little magazines or online, but the majority of them appear here for the first time. Not all of the former students represented in this volume worked extensively with David, though most took at least one course from him.  A few of the stories and essays were initially written for one of his classes or as part of a thesis he directed or co-directed, but most were written later, as former students progressed into their careers as professional writers. In one way or another, all of the works collected here reflect David’s influence, either on individual writers, as mentor, or on the writing program they studied or taught in.  Except for Doug Hesse’s essay about team-teaching a graduate seminar with David, none of the contributions is about David in a strict biographical or autobiographical sense, although characters who resemble him do turn up in a couple of the works that, though wholly imagined, may play off of actual events involving him."

Proofread or Die!: Writings by Former Students & Colleagues of David Foster Wallace.


The Great Concavity - DFW Podcast Ep 12 - David Hering

I've only just managed to listen to Ep 12... so good! Dave and Matt are doing an amazing job with this show (Episode 13 is on my phone ready to listen to while I cycle in to work tomorrow).

Episode12 of the The Great Concavity is an engaging interview with David Hering, Lecturer in contemporary and American literature at University of Liverpool.

All kinds of interesting things in this ep, but the best parts of the conversation involve finding (a little) about what's going to be in his book due to be released in September, David Foster Wallace: Fiction and Form. I'm so excited about this upcoming release - the chapter about The Pale King sounds fascinating.

David Hering also edited Consider David Foster Wallace: Critical Essays.


(Follow the show on twitter @ConcavityShow and subscribe to the podcast here)


The podcast is hosted by Dave Laird (@DaveLaird2) and Matt Bucher (@mattbucher,wallace-l,, Simple Ranger, Side Show Media Group) two Wallace enthusiasts with a wealth of Wallace knowledge to share.

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 May 2016 17:37

20 Years Already! Congrats wallace-l

The wallace-l listserv has now been around for 20 years. This seems unbelievable to me.

Wallace-l list owner, Matt Bucher, has written about it over at his blog, www.mattbucher.comTwenty Years of wallace-l:


Today marks twenty years since the first email was sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Since that day, another 77,000 emails have found their way through the servers and in to the inboxes of thousands of subscribers. Twenty years of email! The very phrase inspires dread in some. Yet, these emails have brought me so many delightful surprises, so many new ideas to consider, and a real sense of community.


Continue reading Twenty Years of wallace-l.

Matt, Thanks so much for everything.



Corrections in the 20th Anniversary IJ

Update: Ian Shaw mentioned in the comments below that the UK edition does not have these corrections... any other confirmations? What about the alternate UK cover version?

Don posted a list of mistakes corrected in the 20th Anniversary edition of Infinite Jest (and some that weren't) over at the DFW Words Blog last month.

Absolutely worth checking out if you haven't seen it yet.

(While you're there have a look at the Jan 2016 post, A Hardly Exhaustive But Still Interesting Look at the Differences Between the Infinite Jest Galleys and First Printing)


Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 08:56

In the David Foster Wallace Archive - Part 1

(Part of the DFW archive via The Art of Construction)

The Art of Construction blog has the first of three posts about RR's visit to the David Foster Wallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas:


I returned from Austin a few weeks ago and while there was able to spend 5 hours examining various documents in the David Foster Wallace (DFW) archive at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) of the University of Texas. And so, I was also able to examine hand written drafts, heavily notated typescripts and other fragments from the birth of Infinite Jest (IJ). Wow. I hope this short essay will transmit a sense of the humanity and process of Wallace as writer and man.  I paged through books from his personal library w/ his marginalia inscribed; I chose books that I have some familiarity with: The Moviegoer – Walker Percy, Against Interpretation – Susan Sontag, and The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin. Pretty cool stuff, which we can imagine indicate the portions of the texts he found most salient – especially the hand written notes in the Percy, which he taught, at Pomona, I believe.


Continue reading, In the David Foster Wallace Archive: Part 1/3

I'm looking forward to the next 2 parts.



The Howling Fantods