Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 16:30
Joe Winkler's review of Quack This Way for Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Lessons in Language from David Foster Wallace and Bryan Garner: A Review of “Quack This Way” [7/11/13]:
Of course, this being a David Foster Wallace interview, an unedited one at that, we receive some gems and experience the frustration in a brain that just won’t stop, ever. Numerous times, Wallace worries that he needs to constantly sharpen his statements, and numerous times he notes that this will likely be cut, and should be cut because he didn’t say it right. This tic is at turns endearing and frustrating, but ultimately a nice conduit into what it felt like to think as Wallace. For him, all statements required essays given the complexity of simple words.
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I posted about these in early October, but since then they've both had covers added to the listings.
"Asked in 2006 about the philosophical nature of his fiction, the late American writer David Foster Wallace replied, "If some people read my fiction and see it as fundamentally about philosophical ideas, what it probably means is that these are pieces where the characters are not as alive and interesting as I meant them to be."
Gesturing Toward Reality looks into this quality of Wallace's work—when the writer dons the philosopher's cap—and sees something else. With essays offering a careful perusal of Wallace's extensive and heavily annotated self-help library, re-considerations of Wittgenstein's influence on his fiction, and serious explorations into the moral and spiritual landscape where Wallace lived and wrote, this collection offers a perspective on Wallace that even he was not always ready to see. Since so much has been said in specifically literary circles about Wallace's philosophical acumen, it seems natural to have those with an interest in both philosophy and Wallace's writing address how these two areas come together."
Of the twelve books David Foster Wallace published both during his lifetime and posthumously, only three were novels. Nevertheless, Wallace always thought of himself primarily as a novelist. From his college years at Amherst, when he wrote his first novel as part of a creative honors thesis, to his final days, Wallace was buried in a novel project, which he often referred to as "the Long Thing." Meanwhile, the short stories and journalistic assignments he worked on during those years he characterized as "playing hooky from a certain Larger Thing." Wallace was also a specific kind of novelist, devoted to producing a specific kind of novel, namely the omnivorous, culture-consuming "encyclopedic" novel, as described in 1976 by Edward Mendelson in a ground-breaking essay on Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.
David Foster Wallace and "The Long Thing" is a state-of-the art guide through Wallace's three major works, including the generation-defining Infinite Jest. These essays provide fresh new readings of each of Wallace's novels as well as thematic essays that trace out patterns and connections across the three works. Most importantly, the collection includes six chapters on Wallace's unfinished novel, The Pale King, that will prove to be foundational for future scholars of this important text.
Last Updated on Sunday, 01 December 2013 14:59
Bryan A. Garner's (@BryanAGarner) interview with David Foster Wallace, Quack this Way, was waiting for me when I arrived home this afternoon.
I need to savour every moment of this.
I'm finding it difficult to express just how great this is. The majority of this 137 page publication is the transcript of a 96 minute conversation between Garner and Wallace in 2006. The interview is Wallace at his best speaking about his craft and writing in general. Wallace is so comfortable.
It is completely captivating and invigorating.
I'm already taking notes for things to share with my students about writing.
And it's lovely to 'hear' Wallace's voice again. Garner has done a wonderful thing to share not only the interview with us but a beautiful introductory tribute, unflinchingly written about a dear friend. To top it off royalties support the Wallace literary archive at the Harry Ransom Center.
Do not hesitate. Buy this volume. You won't regret it.
Quack this Way at Amazon.com
Last Updated on Saturday, 02 November 2013 21:09
Ryan M. Blanck (https://www.facebook.com/RyanMBlanck, @RyanMBlanck) has published a collection of narrative and critical essays influenced by David Foster Wallace, Supposedly Fun Things.
If you followed his Letters to DFW or Supposedly Fun Things… Essays and Reflections Inspired by the Non-fiction of David Foster Wallace then you'll be familiar with Ryan's passion for David Foster Wallace and may well find his collection of revised essays Supposedly Fun Things just the thing to tide you over until next year's critical works about Wallace.
Ryan agreed to a little chat about his passion for writing, for David Foster Wallace and the nexus of the two, Supposedly Fun Things. Enjoy. (It's long, so make sure you click on read more if you're reading this on the front page)
Nick Maniatis - Thanks for joining us, Ryan! How about we start with a little introduction about yourself?
Ryan Blanck - I am a high school English teacher (and newly appointed department chair) at a charter school north of Los Angeles. I've been teaching for 14 years in a variety of public and private schools. I am a husband and father of two girls, ages 7 and 10. My daughters are incredible dancers and voracious readers and freakishly smart. My younger daughter wrote and published a book last summer; it's nice to have a child following in my footsteps. My wife is a "retired" teacher who stays home with the girls.
I've been writing for about ten years; writing seriously for about the last four. My Letters blog played a big part in getting me focused and motivated in my writing. Supposedly Fun Things is my third book.
Aside from teaching HS English and writing, I also teach an online creative writing class and am the part-time youth director at my church. In the little free time I have, I have taken up the sport of curling.
NM - Writing for about 10 years? How did that come about?
RB - I've sort of always been a writer. In elementary school I would write very lengthy and very imaginative stories. But it really started in earnest in college. Some friends and I had aspirations of writing and producing a magazine, but it was hard to do when we had no money and very little time to do so.
Can't wait for my copy to arrive.
Alan Yuhas reviews Quack This Way for the Guardian, A lifelong apprenticeship: David Foster Wallace and Bryan A Garner on writing:
The bulk of this slim volume (only 123 pages including the introduction) is the interview’s transcript, which reads like two old, very smart friends chatting about their favorite topic: how to write well. To adapt a relevant Guardian review, this introductory guide to writing "more than justifies the entry price". You couldn’t ask for two better tutors.
Wallace and Garner hash out the "lifelong apprenticeship" of language, from big bromides, like "the reader cannot read your mind", to the gritty details of good openers, transitions, and a vocabulary of "elegant variation". Their delight in taking apart solecisms is infectious – the passages about advertising and “officialese” are both hilarious and fascinating. It’s not as stunning as Wallace's essay – never mind as comprehensive as Garner's dictionary – but it’s still brilliant fun.
The friends' love for language is irrepressible. Garner's most staid questions turn into happy, roundabout digressions. He asks, for instance: "Of what utility is a usage book to some writer – of fiction or nonfiction?" In turn, Wallace talks about his students, a hard drive metaphor, and why a usage book "is one of the great bathroom books of all time".
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