This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

( 28 )

Overview

Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in THIS IS WATER. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$10.35
BN.com price
(Save 31%)$15.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (29) from $6.65   
  • New (19) from $8.10   
  • Used (10) from $6.65   
This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in THIS IS WATER. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend.

Writing with his one-of-a-kind blend of causal humor, exacting intellect, and practical philosophy, David Foster Wallace probes the challenges of daily living and offers advice that renews us with every reading.

Read More Show Less
  • Molly's Top Tags! April 13
    Molly's Top Tags! April 13  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, 'Morning, boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?' " After you finish reading David Foster Wallace's 2005 Kenyon College commencement speech, you too will feel awash in new experiences. This speech, Wallace's most direct personal statement before his death in 2008, has circulated on the Net in various forms since the day of its presentation.
Alicia J. Rouverol
We read Wallace because he forces us to think. He makes us consider what's beneath us and around us—like water.
The Christian Science Monitor
Tom Bissel
None of the cloudlessly sane and true things he had to say about life in 2005 are any less sane or true today...[This is Water] reminds us of [Wallace's] strength and goodness and decency—the parts of him the terrible master [the mind] could never defeat, and never will.
New York Times Book Review
Mark Follman
Striking...is [Wallace's] evocative insight and humor.
Mother Jones
Alicia J. Rouverol - The Christian Science Monitor
"We read Wallace because he forces us to think. He makes us consider what's beneath us and around us--like water."
Tom Bissel - New York Times Book Review
"None of the cloudlessly sane and true things he had to say about life in 2005 are any less sane or true today...[This is Water] reminds us of [Wallace's] strength and goodness and decency--the parts of him the terrible master [the mind] could never defeat, and never will."
Mark Follman - Mother Jones
"Striking...is [Wallace's] evocative insight and humor."
From the Publisher
"David Foster Wallace's unbelievable graduation speech...will inspire you."—Daily Candy

"We read Wallace because he forces us to think. He makes us consider what's beneath us and around us—like water."—Alicia J. Rouverol, The Christian Science Monitor

"Think of it as The Last Lecture for intellectuals."—Time

"None of the cloudlessly sane and true things he had to say about life in 2005 are any less sane or true today...[This is Water] reminds us of [Wallace's] strength and goodness and decency—the parts of him the terrible master [the mind] could never defeat, and never will."—Tom Bissel, New York Times Book Review

"Striking...is [Wallace's] evocative insight and humor."—Mark Follman, Mother Jones

Time
"Think of it as The Last Lecture for intellectuals."
Daily Candy
"David Foster Wallace's unbelievable graduation speech...will inspire you."
The Barnes & Noble Review
David Foster Wallace committed suicide in September 2008, a grim reality that unavoidably colors This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life, a commencement address he gave at Kenyon College in 2005. This slim publication -- its 134 pages often contain one sentence -- warns of the dangerous, unhappy depressions of self-absorption and says "learning how to think," that old liberal arts mantra, "really means learning how to exercise some control over how andwhat you think." Every life experience casts us in the lead role, and that default setting is our greatest obstacle, Wallace says. "Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to food shop, because my natural default setting is that situations like this are really all about me." To combat this attitude, we must be mindful and vigilant. "It means being aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot or will not exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed." In short, don't sweat the small stuff, because, well, most of it is small stuff. Clinical depression was not small stuff to David Foster Wallace. His suicide doesn't trivialize the advice in this brief, charming volume; but his advice doesn't help us understand his death, either. --Cameron Martin
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316068222
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 30,082
  • Product dimensions: 4.70 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.90 (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."

Read More Show Less
    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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Don't Bother

    DFW is one of my favorite writers, but this book is really a waste of money. The layout is one sentence per page so they can justify putting a speech into book form in order to capitalize just a little bit more on his death. Unfortunately this plan worked on me, so please don't let it work on you. Seriously, don't waste your money on this "book." They may as well have just dressed this up as some inspirational page-a-day book that you can open up every morning and take one quote from. Then we could've spent a day living our lives by "Or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning." The only difference is you can't hide how ridiculous, unnecessary, and financially motivated a DFW daily book of inspirational quotes is. With this book, they're able to dress up their motivations with a minimalist book cover.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2012

    A Beautiful Mind

    This is one of the best things I have ever read.

    Someone complained that there is only one sentence per page (true) and that it makes it look as though it is supposed to be read a page a day (not as I read it).

    This was a commencement speech. People tend to speak a sentence at a time when they are giving a prepared speech.

    To me, having one sentence per page helps re-create the tempo of the speech.

    It also works well on the page because it is a small book (6 3/4" x 4 3/4").

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 8, 2009

    This is A Commencement Speech

    Oh to have been a graduate of Kenyon College when David Foster Wallace gave this speech! I wish mine had been as compelling. If ever I were to give a commencement address I hope it would be as hip, intelligent, funny and thoughtful as this. Well worth reading and giving as a gift to college graduates.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I wish I had been in the audience but kinda glad I wasn't-would like to hear from anyone who was @ Kenyon 2005 Commencement

    I found this essay so resonating that I sent the online article to practically everyone I knew. To those middle aged denizens who remember their life when if felt real, to those youth who live in the now and vow never to change, this book will speak to them. In addition to graduation cash I plan to give this to young people I know who graduate from high school or college. I am so pleased that DFW's words were given the honor of being bound in a book; they are too weighty just to remain electronic or on fading newsprint. When after a harrowing day or a soul-sucking encounter I read this and it helps me to find my center, again. Yeah you can find this elsewhere and I am not big on paying for what is out there for free, but this, in a book, gives heft, gives importance and so David Foster Wallace is and also his words.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 1, 2013

    A well Written Piece of Encouragement to Open Our Eyes to the Obvious

    David Foster Wallace's "This is Water" is a transcript of a speech the author gave to Kenyon College in 2005. You can probably find this speech online and hear the same information contained in this book for free, but I'm naturally a reader and enjoy reading the printed word. I get more out of the content when I read instead of listen.

    One of the things I liked best about this book is the way that the prose was broken up into brief segments on each page so that I could digest it piece by piece. The whole book can be read in about an hour, but the short passages on each page help with the pacing so that each line is taken in more thoughtfully.

    The main theme of the message is that we often miss seeing the things that are right in front of us, the things that are obvious. The author makes the point beautifully be starting off with a story and then he fills in the details. This is a short but excellent work.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2012

    Do Not Purchase This File

    I just purchased this ebook, and the file had 16 pages of fragmented text!!! Now, I have to try to get a refund.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2009

    Poignant and Concise

    I am a deep thinker but I have ADD when it comes to reading. This book was originally supposed to be a gift for a friend who had just graduated from college but I had to sneak a peak. Once I opened it up I couldn't stop reading. That rarely happens to me.

    Very moving.
    Very honest.
    Very good.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    DFW

    a really nice, little book. a lesson about life from a great writer.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)