The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Pale Winter - Reading The Pale King

Today is day 1 of the group read of David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, check out the blog page for more info - Pale Winter.

If you've not read The Pale King and you'd like to read along with others this is the perfect opportunity.

Here's the (loose) reading schedule:

Week 1 (12/21–28) – Sections 1-9, pp. 3-85 [82 pages]
Week 2 (12/29–1/4) – Sections 10-21, pp. 86-153 [67 pages]
Week 3 (1/5–11) – Section 22, pp. 154-252 [98 pages]
Week 4 (1/12–18) – Sections 23-27, pp. 253-345 [92 pages]
Week 5 (1/19–25) – Sections 28-45, pp. 346-443 [97 pages] 
Week 6 (1/26–2/2) – Sections 46-50, pp. 444-538 [94 pages]
+ Notes & Asides pp. 539-547 [8 pages]


The End of the Tour - Movie

An adaptation of David Lipsky's, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace. (!)

Via The Wrap:

James Ponsoldt will direct from a script by playwright Donald Margulies, who adapted Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky’s book.

Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel are attached to star in Anonymous Content’s “The End of the Tour,” multiple individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap.

Segel will play David Foster Wallace, the author of “Infinite Jest” who committed suicide in 2008, while Eisenberg will play Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky.
Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013 15:26

D. T. Max Reviews Quack This Way

There's a fine post by D. T. Max about/reviewing Quack This Way over at the New Yorker Page-Turner Blog, D.F.W.’s Favorite Grammarian:

For readers, I think it’s almost entirely a good thing. Our worries are not D.F.W.’s. He was a brilliant conversationalist, whose best stuff often didn’t make it to the page—our Coleridge, if you like. Ask anyone who knew him, and what they remember is his glorious, discursive, impassioned talk.

And it’s true that even in this new, slender volume, there is always something absorbing, something distinctive, some agitated motion of the inner being that is distinctly Wallace.

Read the rest of D.F.W.’s Favorite Grammarian, here.

Quack This Way at


Revisiting All Things Shining

Update: Great comment thread for this one. See futher down for two new links originating from the comments.

This post is completely motivated by the comment Terrence Blake added to an old news update about the Wallace chapter in All Things Shining Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (2011). I recall reading criticisms that the chapter was a misreading (my words) of Wallace so it's nice to have some critical discussion around this issue.

Terrence posted three links to clarify just why Dreyfus and Kelly were so off the mark and I've reproduced the comment in full below. I love how the third link refers to the recent Quack this Way interview as evidence to counter the take on Wallace (it's worth reading).

Over to Terrence Blake:

All Things Shining is a great book in many ways, but it gets DFW totally wrong. I have tried to discuss its chapter on DFW productively here, DAVID FOSTER WALLACE (1): individuation beyond the individual.

Adam S. Miller takes a similar view here, All Things Shining: Maps on Fire but he takes a very critical view not just of the chapter on Wallace but of the whole project of the book.

I try to reconcile both our views here, GRACE, SHINING, AND INDIVIDUATION: Adam Miller, Hubert Dreyfus, and Sean Kelly on David Foster Wallace.


New Additions:

Recent interview with Sean Kelly where he talks about ALL THING SHINING and the projected sequel, to be called The Lofty Sway of the Dark . He mentions Wallace on the sadness of our culture and on the need to cultivate our attention instead of letting it be controlled.

Review of All Things Shining with special reference to their treatment of David Foster Wallace.

(Thanks, Terrence!)

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013 10:07

Quack This Way - Independent Review

Larry Ryan has review Quack This Way for The Independent, Quack This Way: David Foster Wallace & Bryan A Garner Talk Language and Writing - book review Talk this way: a writer as inventive in speech as on paper:

There is heft here, though. On a practical level, the royalties are going to the Wallace archive in the University of Texas at Austin. Inside there is enlightening discussion on language, writing and craft.
Throughout there is eloquent discussion and explanation of such issues as bureaucratic officialese, vogue words, argumentative writing, advertising and legal dialects, communication with the reader and George W Bush's mangling of the language.

Read the full review here.

Quack This Way at

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 16:45

Both Flesh and Not - Original Article Comparison

In the follow-up hinted at previously, Paul Debraski from I Just Read About That... took the time to compare the essays collected in Both Flesh and Not to the originals in his post, David Foster Wallace–original articles that comprise Both Flesh and Not (1988-2006) [a comparison]:

As I mentioned last week, I decided to compare the articles in Both Flesh and Not with the original publications to see what the differences were.  I had done this before with A Supposedly Fun Thing… and that was interesting and enlightening (about the editing process).

This time around the book has a lot more information than the original articles did.  Although as I come to understand it, the original DFW submitted article is likely what is being printed in the book with all of the editing done by the magazine (presumably with DFW’s approval).  So basically, if you had read the original articles and figured you didn’t need the book, this is what you’re missing.

Quite a lot of the changes are word choice changes (this seems to belie the idea that DFW approved the changes as they are often one word changes).  Most of the changes are dropped footnotes (at least in one article) or whole sections chopped out (in others).

For the most part the changes were that the book version added things that were left out or more likely removed from the article.

Check out all the difference over at I Just Read About That... David Foster Wallace–original articles that comprise Both Flesh and Not (1988-2006) [a comparison]


Quack This Way - Advice on Arguing Persuasively

Bryan A. Garner has posted an excerpt from his excellent interview with David Foster Wallace, Quack This Way, over at ABA Journal, David Foster Wallace’s advice on arguing persuasively:

Garner: A lot of lawyers say to me they’re writing for judges who themselves don’t write very well, who write a lot of jargon-laden stuff, so they think the best expressive tactic is to mimic the style of the judges for whom they are writing. Does that make sense to you?

Wallace: This gets very tricky. The same thing happens in academia. When students enter my classes, very often what I end up doing is beating out of them habits they were rewarded for in high school—many of them having to do with excessive abstraction, wordiness, overcomplication, excessive reliance on jargon, especially in literary criticism.

But it gets tricky because they will point out that some of the other professors in the department appear to expect this kind of writing. It’s the sort of prose in which their syllabus and handouts are written. So to a certain extent, it’s tricky. What I say to these students is: “Between you and me, different people have different levels of skill at writing.”

Keep reading the excerpt here at ABA Journal.

Quack This Way at




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