David Foster Wallace has become an American legend in his own right, so it makes sense that he’ll be coming to the big screen soon. Jason Segel will play the famous writer in an adaptation of David Lipsky’s Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourselfwith Jesse Eisenberg as Lispky. Can one movie handle this much neurosis?
Tuesday New Release Day
Both Flesh and Not, a posthumous collection of David Foster Wallace essays, is now out in paperback. Also out: Report from the Interior by Paul Auster; a new paperback edition of Stephanie LaCava’s An Extraordinary Theory of Objects; and a new collection of essays by C.S. Lewis. For more on these and other great titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview. Bonus Links: You can now subscribe to listings of literary new releases in your feed reader with this RSS feed. Plus, check out more new release RSS feeds here.
"The ‘cameo’ or ‘fade,’ that troubling cyberpunk flat-top haircut favored by Carl Lewis and Grace Jones but popularized by the group Cameo’s rapping Larry Blackmon, has now become less a haircut than a sculptural statement: words, logos, slogans, and complex signs razored into the rigid anvil of hair that is, according to the Voice, ‘the most culturally conscious unisex hairstyle since the ‘afro.’”
The book David Foster Wallace co-authored with Mark Costello about the pair’s “uncomfortable, somewhat furtive, and distinctively white enthusiasm for a certain music called rap/hip-hop” will be re-released in the US next Tuesday. UK readers look like they’re going to get a reissue of the book on their shelves as well.
The only footnotes worth reading these days are the ones written by David Foster Wallace. Wallace made the marginalized fine print purr with energy. The typical Wallace footnote is something of a trick. It begins with what appear to be functional intentions before morphing into a linguistic stunt delivered with a sweet mixture of wit and tenderness. When it’s over (and that can take a while — sometimes pages in 7-pt font), a single Wallace footnote creates shockwaves that reduce the dominant text, no matter how brilliant, to an afterthought.
David Foster Wallace got into arguments about this in graduate school, when he wanted to depict the heavily mediated space around him — subject matter his professors thought was inconsequential or un-literary. As he pointed out, he’d see hundreds of ads and commercials each day, and they constituted an integral part of his mental activity. Writing about this material gets pejoratively labeled “postmodern” or “experimental,” but what’s more “realist” than describing the physical world, even if billboards and 30-second spots replace trees and rivers?
"It left me inarticulate and emotional, as if I’d been zapped back in time to the broodiest moments of my childhood. I expect to spend the rest of my life staring across vast space at [David Foster] Wallace’s unfinished Death Star, wondering ‘What if?’”
I’m not interested in some kind of David Foster Wallace myth-creation, some kind of canonization. We’ve arrived at that moment where now everyone has to weigh in and have their say over what type of person this writer was, how he treated others, what we can deduce about his psychology and how that can unlock his writing. Everyone’s running around with a new revealing fact. The way the cult of personality has taken over much of the discussion of Wallace’s work is something I find deeply aggravating. So if you’re waiting for me to construct a narrative for the ten years in which this archive was compiled or to explain something new about this person I never met based on the things he wrote down, well, I’m not going to. I don’t want to tell you any story about any person I never knew. I want to tell you the story of how I got to dive down deep into a mess of papers and how I came up laughing or crying or unable to speak. I want to tell you about connectivity.