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Conversations with David Foster Wallace


Conversations with the author of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Infinite Jest
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Conversations with the author of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Infinite Jest
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Spanning Wallace’s 20-year career, from 1987 until his suicide in 2008, this collection of interviews and profiles sheds light on a man as intricately constructed as his fiction. While thematic repetitions are inevitable when the subject matter overlaps—many of the interviews concern Wallace’s ambitious and critically lauded 1996 novel, Infinite Jest—on the whole each encounter with the author provides another piece of the puzzle. Larry McCaffery’s 1993 interview from the Review of Contemporary Fiction is the most in-depth and also the most academic, but its discussion of the writer’s struggle to balance the story’s needs with the writer’s need to be admired (“Hey! Look at me! Have a look at what a good writer I am! Like me!”) is fascinating. Despite his eloquence, Wallace often underscored his distaste for interviews, touring, and practically anything else that made him the center of attention, a fact that curiously correlated with his insistence that good writing acts as an “an anodyne against loneliness.” About himself he said, with some chagrin, “I’m an exhibitionist who wants to hide, but is unsuccessful at hiding; therefore, somehow I succeed.” The final, posthumous Rolling Stone profile, “The Lost Years and Last Days of David Foster Wallace,” is even more heartbreaking when read as both the coda of the book and of a life. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Burn's (literature, Northern Michigan Univ.; David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest: A Reader's Guide) intention here is to select from among the 70 or so published interviews of Wallace to present an arc that provides insight into Wallace's development as a writer. Detailed in these 20-plus interviews (all except one previously published, presented here unabridged) are Wallace's myriad concerns including not just writing and reading but contemporary politics, leisure, and the media. The format succeeds because Wallace was exceedingly humane and open to interviewers. Readers will notice recurring themes, especially in interviews given close to the same time. Those interested in this volume will also want David Lipsky's book-length interview, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, which gives a snapshot of Wallace in the hurricane of Infinite Jest stardom. VERDICT Recommended for all David Foster Wallace fans and any newcomers to his life and works.—Jim Hahn, Univ. of Illinois Lib., Urbana
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781617032271
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 3/8/2012
  • Series: Literary Conversations Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 186
  • Sales rank: 624,596
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen J. Burn is associate professor of modern and contemporary literature at Northern Michigan University--Marquette. He is the author of Jonathan Franzen at the End of Postmodernism; Intersections: Essays on Richard Powers; and David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest": A Reader's Guide.
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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Chronology xix

David Foster Wallace: A Profile William R. Katovsky/1987 3

A Whiz Kid and His Wacky First Novel Helen Dudar/1987 8

Looking for a Garde of Which to Be Avant: An Interview with David Foster Wallace Hugh Kennedy Geoffrey Polk/1993 11

An Expanded Interview with David Foster Wallace Larry McCaffery/1993 21

The Next Big Thing: Can a Downstate Author Withstand the Sensation over His 1,079-page Novel? Mark Caro/1996 53

The Salon Interview: David Foster Wallace Laura Miller/1996 58

The Waster Land David Streitfeld/1996 66

David Foster Wallace Winces at the Suggestion That His Book Is Sloppy in Any Sense Anne Marie Donahue/1996 70

Young Writers and the TV Reality Donn Fry/1997 73

The "Infinite Story" Cult Hero Behind the 1,079-Page Novel Rides the Hype He Skewered Matthew Gilbert/1997 76

David Foster Wallace Tom Scocca/1998 82

David Foster Wallace: In the Company of Creeps Lorin Stein/1999 89

David Foster Wallace Warms Up Patrick Arden/1999 94

Mischief: A Brief Interview with David Foster Wallace Chris Wright/1999 101

Behind the Watchful Eyes of Author David Foster Wallace Mark Shechner/2000 104

Conversation with DAvid Foster Wallace and Richard Powers John O'Brien/2000 110

Approaching Infinity Caleb Crain/2003 121

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Interview with David Foster Wallace Steve Paulson/2004 127

The Connection: David Foster Wallace Michael Goldfarb/2004 136

Interview with David Foster Wallace Didier Jacob/2005 152

Just Asking… David Foster Wallace Christopher John Farley/2008 158

The Lost Years and Last Days of David Foster Wallace David Lipsky/2008 161

Index 183

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