Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays

( 31 )

Overview

Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike's deal, anyway? And what happens when adult-video starlets meet their fans in person? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of a vicious presidential race, plunging into the wars between dictionary writers, or confronting the World's Largest Lobster Cooker, Wallace projects a quality of thought that is uniquely his and a voice as ...
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Overview

Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike's deal, anyway? And what happens when adult-video starlets meet their fans in person? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of a vicious presidential race, plunging into the wars between dictionary writers, or confronting the World's Largest Lobster Cooker, Wallace projects a quality of thought that is uniquely his and a voice as powerful and distinct as any in American letters.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In this essay collection, David Foster Wallace is like a lobster on the loose: You're never quite sure where he will skitter to next, but you can't resist following. His topics are almost too numerous to elucidate; he touches everything from pornography and food festivals to Franz Kafka, conservative talk show hosts, and proper English usage. Keeping up with his riffs, asides, and interjections can be a daunting business, but it's worth the effort. The critic who wrote that Wallace "might just be the smartest essayist writing today" hit it right on the noggin.
Publishers Weekly
This audiobook is like no other-not for the fabulous essays or deft narration, but for its inclusion of footnotes. Audio footnotes? It's quite simple. When Wallace reads his plentiful footnotes, which as fans know are anecdotal asides rather than bibliographic references, his voice changes tone. At first, this audio wrinkle sounds odd. But the novelty quickly fades and the parentheticals play as effective and amusing a role as in his print work, perhaps more so since here flow can be better maintained. Wallace dissects various subjects-lobsters, porn, sports memoirs, September 11-through Midwestern eyes. Smart and incisive, he always goes deep and follows threads of thought to their vanishing points, often in witty (though never a self-consciously clever) manner. His delivery is dead-on and fresh, the words often springing from his mouth as if conceived on the spot. His voice mostly hovers a notch or two above monotone, imbuing the material with equal parts wonder and skepticism. Though this collection comprises a mere four hours on three discs, Wallace's depth and breadth creates the sensation of a larger narrative-an audible confirmation that modern American writing continues to gain strength. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 10). (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Consider this collection of offbeat essays from the author of Infinite Jest. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Another savory, hard-thinking, wildly imaginative collection of essays and observations from the artful Wallace (Oblivion, 2004, etc.). Included here is the wonderful "Up, Simba" (the director's cut), a consideration of what John McCain's presidential bid reveals about "millennial politics and all its packaging and marketing," and how the "general sepsis actually makes us US voters feel." It is an essay that showcases Wallace's ability to capture the queer gamut of our citizenry, from "Talmudically bearded guys asking about Chechnya" to "the obligatory walleyed fundamentalist trying to pin [McCain] down on whether Christ really called homosexuality an abomination." In "Joseph Frank's Dostoevsky" he suggests why the Russian master is important to today's American, citing his degrees of passion, conviction and engagement with deep moral issues, as well as his great plots and splendid, alive characterizations. He gets in a mighty dig at John Updike for his uncritical celebration of self-absorption, though he may have been premature in speaking of Philip Roth's "senescence." A lobster festival becomes an opportunity to explore the subjectivity of pain and suffering (lobsters are not likely dancing a happy fandango under the clattering lid of the boiling pot). He addresses the exformative associations in Kafka, the ethics of American English usage, the state of the porn industry and gets windy tearing apart tennis champ Tracy Austin's "insipid" autobiography-but let the wind blow, for it is ever-refreshing. Should Wallace suggest an article on the behavior of a sack of hammers, the smart editor will give him a fat advance and all expenses paid.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316013321
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 7/2/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 71,661
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.12 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.

Biography

Born in Ithaca, NY, and raised in Champaign, IL, David Foster Wallace grew up athletically gifted and exceptionally bright, with an avid interest in tennis, literature, philosophy, and math. He attended Amherst and graduated in 1985 with a double major in English and Philosophy. His philosophy thesis (on modal logic) won the Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize. His English thesis would become his first novel, The Broom of the System. Published in 1987 during his second year of grad school at the University of Arizona, the book sold well, garnering national attention and critical praise in equal measure. Two years later, a book of short stories, Girl with Curious Hair, was published to admiring reviews.

In the early 1990s, Wallace's short fiction began to appear regularly in publications like Playboy, The Paris Review, and The New Yorker, along with excerpts from his second novel, a complex, enormously ambitious work published in 1996 as Infinite Jest. Surpassing 1,000 pages in length, the novel was hailed as a masterpiece ("[A]n entertainment so irresistibly pleasurable it renders the viewer catatonic," raved Newsweek. "[R]esourceful, hilarious, intelligent, and unique," pronounced Atlantic Monthly), and Wallace was crowned on the spot the new heavyweight champion of literary fiction.

Hyperbole aside, Infinite Jest, with its linguistic acrobatics (challenging complex clauses, coined words, etc.) and sly, self-referential footnotes, proved to be the template for a new literary style. Subversive, hip, and teeming with postmodernist irony, the book attracted a rabid cult following and exerted an influence on up-and-coming young writers that is still felt today. The scope of Wallace's achievement can be measured by the fact that one year after the publication of Infinite Jest, he was awarded the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant."

Nearly as famous for his nonfiction as for his novels and stories, Wallace produced mind-boggling essays on assignment for magazines like Harper's. In contrast to his sad, dark, disturbing fiction, these essays -- subsequently collected into such bestselling anthologies as A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (1997), Everything and More (2003), and Consider the Lobster (2007) -- were ridiculously exuberant, fairly bursting with humor, energy, and good cheer. Yet Wallace himself suffered from clinical depression most of his adult life. He was treated successfully with anti-depressants, until side effects from the drugs began to interfere with his productivity. At his doctor's suggestion, he stopped taking the medication.The depression returned, and he did not respond to any further treatment. In September of 2008, at the age of 46, he committed suicide.

Wallace's influence on contemporary literature cannot be overstated. Descended from post-war superstars like Thomas Pynchon and Don De Lillo, his style is clearly visible in the work of postmodernists like Jonathan Safran Foer and Dave Eggers. His untimely death was mourned by critics, writers, and millions of adoring fans. As author David Lipsky stated in a tribute that aired on NPR in September, 2008: "To read David Foster Wallace was to feel your eyelids pulled open."

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 21, 1962
    2. Place of Birth:
      Ithaca, NY
    1. Date of Death:
      September 12, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Claremont, CA
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English & Philosophy, Amherst College, 1985;MFA, University of Arizona, 1987

Read an Excerpt

Consider the Lobster


By David Foster Wallace

Little, Brown

Copyright © 2006 David Foster Wallace
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-15611-6


Chapter One


BIG RED SON

THE AMERICAN ACADEMY of Emergency Medicine confirms it: Each year, between one and two dozen adult US males are admitted to ERs after having castrated themselves. With kitchen tools, usually, sometimes wire cutters. In answer to the obvious question, surviving patients most often report that their sexual urges had become a source of intolerable conflict and anxiety. The desire for perfect release and the real-world impossibility of perfect, whenever-you-want-it release had together produced a tension they could no longer stand.

It is to the 30+ testosteronically afflicted males whose cases have been documented in the past two years that your correspondents wish to dedicate this article. And to those tormented souls considering autocastration in 1998, we wish to say: "Stop! Stay your hand! Hold off with those kitchen utensils and/or wire cutters!" Because we believe we may have found an alternative.

Every spring, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents awards for outstanding achievement in all aspects of mainstream cinema. These are the Academy Awards. Mainstream cinema is a major industry in the United States, and so are the Academy Awards. The AAs' notorious commercialism and hypocrisy disgust many of the millions and millions and millions of viewers who tune in during prime time to watch the presentations. It is not a coincidence that the Oscars ceremony is held during TV's Sweeps Week. We pretty much all tune in, despite the grotesquerie of watching an industry congratulate itself on its pretense that it's still an art form, of hearing people in $5,000 gowns invoke lush clichés of surprise and humility scripted by publicists, etc.-the whole cynical postmodern deal-but we all still seem to watch. To care. Even though the hypocrisy hurts, even though opening grosses and marketing strategies are now bigger news than the movies themselves, even though Cannes and Sundance have become nothing more than enterprise zones. But the truth is that there's no more real joy about it all anymore. Worse, there seems to be this enormous unspoken conspiracy where we all pretend that there's still joy. That we think it's funny when Bob Dole does a Visa ad and Gorbachev shills for Pizza Hut. That the whole mainstream celebrity culture is rushing to cash in and all the while congratulating itself on pretending not to cash in. Underneath it all, though, we know the whole thing sucks.

Your correspondents humbly offer an alternative.

Every January, the least pretentious city in America hosts the Annual AVN Awards. The AVN stands for Adult Video News, which is sort of the Variety of the US porn industry. This thick, beautifully designed magazine costs $7.95 per issue, is about 80 percent ads, and is clearly targeted at adult-video retailers. Its circulation is appr. 40,000.

Though the sub-line vagaries of entertainment accounting are legendary, it is universally acknowledged that the US adult-film industry, at $3.5-4 billion in annual sales, rentals, cable charges, and video-masturbation-booth revenues, is an even larger and more efficient moneymaking machine than legitimate mainstream American cinema (the latter's annual gross commonly estimated at $2-2.5 billion). The US adult industry is centered in LA's San Fernando Valley, just over the mountains from Hollywood. Some insiders like to refer to the adult industry as Hollywood's Evil Twin, others as the mainstream's Big Red Son.

It is no accident that Adult Video News-a slick, expensive periodical whose articles are really more like infomercials-and its yearly Awards both came into being in 1982. The early '80s, after all, saw the genesis of VCRs and home-video rentals, which have done for the adult industry pretty much what TV did for pro football.

From the 12/11/97 press release issued by AVN:

* The nominations for the 15th Annual AVN Awards were announced today. This year's awards show, commemorating AVN's 15th anniversary, celebrates "History". [sic]

* Awards will be presented in a record 106 categories over a two night period.

* The adult industry released nearly 8,000 adult releases [sic] in 1997, including over 4,000 "new" releases (non-compilation). AVN reviewed every new release in every category [sic] this past year, logging over 30,000 sex scenes.

* By comparison, last year there were approximately 375 films eligible for the Academy Awards that these voters [sic-meaning different voters from the AVN voters, presumably] were required to see. AVN had to watch more than 10 times the amount of releases in order to develop these nominations [usage and repetition sic, though 4,000 divided by 375 is indeed over 10].

From the acceptance speech of Mr. Tom Byron, Saturday, 10 January 1998, Caesars Forum ballroom, Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino complex, Las Vegas NV, upon winning AVN's 1998 Male Performer of the Year Award (and with no little feeling): "I want to thank every beautiful woman I ever put my cock inside." [Laughter, cheers, ovation.]

From the acceptance speech of Ms. Jeanna Fine, ibid., upon winning AVN's 1998 Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in Rob Black's Miscreants: "Jesus, which one is this for, Miscreants? Jesus, that's another one where I read the script and said 'Oh shit, I am going to go to hell. [Laughter, cheers.] But that's okay, 'cause all my friends'll be there too!" [Huge wave of laughter, cheers, applause.]

From the inter-Award banter of Mr. Bobby Slayton, professional comedian and master of ceremonies for the 1997 AVNAs: "I know I'm looking good, though, like younger, 'cause I started using this special Grecian Formula-every time I find a gray hair, I fuck my wife in the ass. [No laughter, scattered groans.] Fuck you. That's a great joke. Fuck you."

Bobby Slayton, a gravelly-voiced Dice Clay knockoff who kept introducing every female performer as "the woman I'm going to cut my dick off for," and who astounded all the marginal print journalists in attendance with both his unfunniness and his resemblance to every apartment-complex coke dealer we'd ever met, is mercifully absent from the 1998 Awards gala. The '98 emcee is one Robert Schimmel, alumnus of In Living Color and a Howard Stern regular. Schimmel looks like a depraved, deeply tan Wallace Shawn and is no less coarse than B. Slayton but a lot better. He does a pantomime of someone attempting intercourse with a Love Doll he's been too lazy to blow up all the way. He contrasts the woeful paucity of his own ejaculate with the concussive orgasms of certain well-known male performers, comparing these men's ejaculations to automatic lawn sprinklers and doing an eerie sonic impression of same. All of 1998's marginal print journalists are together at Table 189 at the very back of the ballroom. Most of these reporters are from the sorts of men's magazines that sit shrinkwrapped behind the cash registers of convenience stores, and they are a worldly and jaded crew indeed, but Schimmel gets a couple of them-whose noms de guerre are Harold Hecuba and Dick Filth-laughing so uproariously that people at the Anabolic Video table nearby keep looking over in annoyance. At one point during a routine on premature ejaculation, Dick Filth actually chokes on a California roll.

... But all this is Saturday night, the main event. And there are a whole lot of festivities preceding Saturday's climax.

The adult industry is vulgar. Would anyone disagree? One of the AVN Awards' categories is "Best Anal Themed Feature"; another is "Best Overall Marketing Campaign-Company Image." Irresistible, a 1983 winner in several categories, has been spelled Irresistable in Adult Video News for fifteen straight years. The industry's not only vulgar, it's predictably vulgar. All the clichés are true. The typical porn producer really is the ugly little man with a bad toupee and a pinkie-ring the size of a Rolaids. The typical porn director really is the guy who uses the word class as a noun to mean refinement. The typical porn starlet really is the lady in Lycra eveningwear with tattoos all down her arms who's both smoking and chewing gum while telling journalists how grateful she is to Wadcutter Productions Ltd. for footing her breast-enlargement bill. And meaning it. The whole AVN Awards weekend comprises what Mr. Dick Filth calls an Irony-Free Zone.

But of course we should keep in mind that vulgar has many dictionary definitions and that only a couple of these have to do w/ lewdness or bad taste. At root, vulgar just means popular on a mass scale. It is the semantic opposite of pretentious or snobby. It is humility with a comb-over. It is Nielsen ratings and Barnum's axiom and the real bottom line. It is big, big business.

Thirty-four-year-old porn actor Cal Jammer killed himself in 1995. Starlets Shauna Grant, Nancy Kelly, Alex Jordan, and Savannah have all killed themselves in the last decade. Savannah and Jordan received AVN's Best New Starlet awards in 1991 and 1992, respectively. Savannah killed herself after getting mildly disfigured in a car accident. Alex Jordan is famous for having addressed her suicide note to her pet bird. Crewman and performer Israel Gonzalez killed himself at a porn company warehouse in 1997.

An LA-based support group called PAW (=Protecting Adult Welfare) runs a 24-hour crisis line for people in the adult industry. A fundraiser for PAW was held at a Mission Hills CA bowling alley last November. It was a nude bowling tournament. Dozens of starlets agreed to take part. Two or three hundred adult-video fans showed up and paid to watch them bowl naked. No production companies or their executives participated or gave money. The fundraiser took in $6,000, which is slightly less than two one-millionths of porn's yearly gross.

As you know if you've seen Casino, Showgirls, Bugsy, etc., there are really three Las Vegases. Binion's, where the World Series of Poker is always played, exemplifies the "Old Vegas," centered around Fremont Street. Las Vegas's future is even now under late-stage construction at the very end of the Strip, on the outskirts of town (where US malls always go up); it's to be a bunch of theme-parkish, more "family-oriented" venues of the kind that De Niro describes so plangently at the end of Casino.

But Las Vegas as most of us see it, Vegas qua Vegas, comprises the dozen or so hotels that flank the Strip's middle. Vegas Populi: the opulent, intricate, garish, ecstatically decadent hotels, cathedra to gambling, partying, and live entertainment of the most microphone- swinging sort. The Sands. The Sahara. The Stardust. MGM Grand, Maxim. All within a small radius. Yearly utility expenditures on neon well into seven figures. Harrah's, Casino Royale (with its big 24-hour Denny's attached), Flamingo Hilton, Imperial Palace. The Mirage, with its huge laddered waterfall always lit up. Circus Circus. Treasure Island, with its intricate facade of decks and rigging and mizzens and vang. The Luxor, shaped like a ziggurat from Babylon of yore. Barbary Coast, whose sign out front says CASH YOUR PAYCHECK-WIN UP TO $25,000. These hotels are the Vegas we know. The land of Lola and Wayne. Of Siegfried and Roy, Copperfield. Showgirls in towering headdress. Sinatra's sandbox. Most of them built in the '50s and '60s, the era of mob chic and entertainment-cum-industry. Half-hour lines for taxis. Smoking not just allowed but encouraged. Toupees and convention nametags and women in furs of all hue. A museum that features the World's Biggest Coke Bottle. The Harley-Davidson Cafe, with its tympanum of huge protruding hawg; Bally's H&C, with its row of phallic pillars all electrified and blinking in grand mal sync. A city that pretends to be nothing but what it is, an enormous machine of exchange-of spectacle for money, of sensation for money, of money for more money, of pleasure for whatever be tomorrow's abstract cost.

Nor let us forget Vegas's synecdoche and beating heart. It's kittycorner from Bally's: Caesars Palace. The granddaddy. As big as 20 Wal-Marts end to end. Real marble and fake marble, carpeting you can pass out on without contusion, 130,000 square feet of casino alone. Domed ceilings, clerestories, barrel vaults. In Caesars Palace is America conceived as a new kind of Rome: conqueror of its own people. An empire of Self. It's breathtaking. The winter's light rain makes all the neon bleed. The whole thing is almost too pretty to stand. There could be no site but Las Vegas's Caesars for modern porn's Awards show-here, the AAVNAs are one more spectacle. Way more tourists and conventioneers recognize the starlets than you'd expect. Double-takes all over the hotel. Even just standing around or putting coins in a slot machine, the performers become a prime attraction. Las Vegas doesn't miss a trick.

The Annual AVN Awards are always scheduled to coincide with the International Consumer Electronics Show (a.k.a. CES), which this year runs from 8 through 11 January. The CES is a very big deal. It's like a combination convention and talent show for the best and brightest in the world of consumer tech. Steve Forbes is here, and DSS's Thomson. Sun Microsystems is using this year's CES to launch its PersonalJava 1.0. Bill Gates gives a packed-house speech on Saturday morning. Major players from TV, cable, and merchandising host a panel on the short-term viability of HDTV. A forum on the problem of product returns by disgruntled customers seats 1,500 and is SRO. The CES as a whole is bigger than your correspondents' hometowns. It's spread out over four different hotels and has 10,000+ booths with everything from "The First Ever Full Text Message Pager in a Wristwatch" to the world's premier self-heating home satellite dish ("The Snow and Ice Solution!").

But far and away the CES's most popular venue, with total attendance well over 100,000 every year, is what is called the Adult Software exhibition, despite the fact that the CES itself treats the Adult tradeshow kind of like the crazy relative in the family and keeps it way out in what used to be the parking garage of the Sands hotel. This facility, a serious bus ride from all the other CES sites, is an enormous windowless all-cement space that during show hours manages to induce both agoraphobia and claustrophobia. A big sign says you have to be 21 to get in. The median age inside is 45, almost all males, nearly everyone wearing some sort of conventioneer's nametag. Every production company in the adult industry, from Anabolic to Zane, has a booth here. The really big companies have booths that are sprawling and multidisplay and more like small strip malls. A lot of porn's top female performers are contract players, exclusive vendors to one particular production company; and one reason why a lot of the starlets seem kind of tired and cranky by Saturday night's Awards gala is that they will have spent much of the previous 72 hours at their companies' CES booths, on their feet all day in vertiginous heels, signing autographs and posing for pictures and pressing all manner of flesh.

The best way to describe the sonic environment at the '98 CES is: Imagine that the apocalypse took the form of a cocktail party. Male fans move through the fractal maze of booths in groups of three or more. Their expressions tend to be those of junior-high boys at a peephole, an expression that looks pretty surreal on a face with jowls and no hairline. Some among them are video retailers; most are not. Most are just hard-core fans, the industry's breath and bread. A lot of them not only recognize but seem to know the names, stage names, and curricula vitae of almost all the female performers.

It takes an average of two hours and twelve minutes to traverse the Adult CES expo, counting an average of four delays for getting lost after a chicane turn or some baroque ceiling-high cheval glass designed to double the visual exposure of Heatwave Video's display for Texas Dildo Masquerade gets you all turned around. Your correspondents are accompanied by Harold Hecuba and Dick Filth, who have very generously offered to act as guides and docents, and here is a random spatter of the things we see the first time we come in:

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace Copyright © 2006 by David Foster Wallace. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Big red son 3
Certainly the end of something or other, one would sort of have to think 51
Some remarks on Kafka's funniness from which probably not enough has been removed 60
Authority and American usage 66
The view from Mrs. Thompson's 128
How Tracy Austin broke my heart 141
Up, Simba 156
Consider the lobster 235
Joseph Frank's Dostoevsky 255
Host 275
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

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(15)

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(5)

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(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2011

    Missing "Host"

    Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with David Foster Wallace's writing. In fact it is superb. I've given the nook book version of his essay collection only one star because it is missing probably one his most interesting pieces, "Host." Perhaps the reason is because the form is so strange and it couldn't be adapted to a nook book format. However, I don't buy this excuse. The hard copy is cheaper (online) and complete, so buy that one instead.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Consider this Book?

    David Foster Wallace is the best writer you haven't read. This book of essays allows the reader to get a great idea of how he writes. He's witty, amusing, well-researched, and talented. I cannot speak for his short stories or other fiction, but his essays were very fun to read.<BR/><BR/>Note, his favorite essay technique is the footnote, so be prepared. Every essay is an exercise for the eye as much as the brain.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Wallace is a bit too pedantic

    My first few years of college I was always tempted to write grandiose sentences with every "big word" I could squeeze in. Then I realized that it isn't helpful nor does it make me appear intelligent, it just makes you appear pompous, especially in the internet age where everyone writing an essay has the internet with its dictionaries and thesauruses at their fingertips.

    That being said, "Consider the Lobster" the essay, not the entire book, was really good. A few of the others were interesting. There are quite a few that I tried to read but couldn't force myself to.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2009

    Read all you can of DFW

    David Foster Wallace has looked into the heart of American. I think he saw all we are/were and had trouble coming to grips with it. A man for all seasons. His writing reminds me of the character Homer Simpson in that we all have a trait that is a fault, so you can either take a step back and laugh at yourself, or you reject the truth of it. Those who reject the truth often can not look at themselves with a truly enlighten and open mind. The truth is out faults are what make us most human and in that respect most endearing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Superb essays

    Though this reviewer rarely reads essay collections, this form of literature is both my favorite and my most detested format (corollary to the 50 page rule of why keep reading if it so bad, for essays a 20 page rule). When satirically amusing and filled with irony on ¿postmodern¿ life, nothing beats an essay such as classics like the ¿postmodern¿ ¿How to Cook Roast Pig¿ or ¿A Modest Proposal¿. David Foster Wallace provides ten delightful articles on a variety of topics ranging from the relativity of pornography to generalizing the insipidness of sports autobiographies extracting from Tracy Austin¿s perfect tennis adventure (Bill and Ted for a set anyone). In Mr. Wallace¿s delightful way, if one wants to know whether a lobster feels pain while undergoing scalding water treatment, don¿t ask the cook, the lobsterman, or the zoologist go to the source (not sauce): ask the lobster who obviously is not dancing their life away. Same goes to McCain's presidential bid lost during a failed debate with a fundamentalist demanding the senator turn no cheek insisting Christ condemned homosexuality. Though the asides can be difficult to follow with abbrev, they are fun to follow up on with their deeper explanations and Americanization of the English language through ibid. Readers will appreciate the deep look at ¿postmodern¿ American life as a fabulous INFINITE JEST. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2014

    Please post and ill give you a puppy

    Let me post ive never posted on here let me post post postpost

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  • Posted September 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    From sex pots to lobster pots

    Only in the world of David Foster Wallace could porn wind up being the most boring thing on the menu. Lobster serves up a variety of delights - including the ridiculously good article for Gourmet this collection draws its name from - but only if you can manage to slog through the inappropriately footnoted roman a clef appertif. Wallace's signature style fares much better in his essay on the Dictionary of American Usage, which I found easily the most interesting thing he's ever written. SNOOTS of the world, unite!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2007

    Where's the humor?

    I couldn't even finish the audio book. The lobster tale (sorry for the pun) and the 9/11 reminiscense were mildly amusing. By the third story I was numb and turned it off.

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    Posted June 25, 2010

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